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Commitment to Triangle Offense may be the reason Brian Shaw is not yet a head coach

Nov 30, 2012, 8:26 PM EDT

Phil Jackson, Brian Shaw AP

Brian Shaw is currently an “associate head coach” with the Indiana Pacers, a title that may mean internally that he’s second in command, but has no league-wide significance beyond that.

He’s an assistant coach to everyone else, and though he’s had plenty of interviews with teams for a head coaching spot — nine of them, to be exact — he’s no closer now than he was when he was winning championships as a member of Phil Jackson’s coaching staff with the Lakers.

That Lakers connection is an important one, as it may be part of the reason why Shaw has yet to get his shot. The fact that he believes so strongly in the Triangle Offense that Jackson ran in both Chicago and Los Angeles could be what has kept other teams from pulling the trigger on Shaw thus far.

From Ric Bucher of

Shaw’s calling card is that he learned the Triangle under Phil Jackson, he of the 11 championship rings. Shaw helped win three of those rings as a player and two as an assistant coach. Several teams who have interviewed him say the Triangle is the offense he has proposed. The consensus around the league is that Shaw is the NBA equivalent of a great Concorde pilot: his resumè says he’s good at flying something no one believes can get off the ground.

As one of the GMs who has interviewed him explained: “The Triangle has never worked for anyone, anywhere, other than Phil, and that was only when he had Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Let’s face it, how many of his assistants have gone on to be successful head coaches? Whether it’s fair or not, the perception is that it was all Phil and the Lakers’ ability to get whatever they needed. Another part is that the Lakers didn’t hire Shaw when they had the chance. If they didn’t think he could make it work for them, with all of their resources, can you really go to your owner with a convincing argument as to why he’s going to make it work for your team?”

All good points, and all legitimate concerns.

The Triangle Offense isn’t an easy one to implement, nor is it an easy one to teach to a team without the proper pieces to run it successfully. Jackson had the offense’s architect, Tex Winter, as a member of his staff throughout, along with assistants Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons who were familiar with it inside and out and able to teach and run it seamlessly.

Kurt Rambis tried to bring it with him to a rebuilding Minnesota team, and failed miserably doing so, getting fired after compiling a brutal record of 32-132 in his two seasons there.

Shaw will get more opportunities to interview. If he’s serious about becoming a head coach in this league, he should heed the implicit advice he’s received to this point during his travels, and find a way to sell his leadership skills and personal philosophy for success, while distancing himself from the Triangle Offense at the same time, despite where his experience with it has taken him.

  1. allthewaylive1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    To thine self be true. Most ppl never even get to be an assistant; don’t let them make you cave contrary to who you are. Go for it!

  2. allthewaylive1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Is there a reason my previous comment is being ignored?

    • bowens3181 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:37 PM

      Because nobody cares

    • dolphindubs - Dec 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      To thine self be true. Most ppl never even try to post a comment on here; don’t let them make you cave contrary to who you are. Keep going for it!

  3. fruitcovejag - Dec 1, 2012 at 12:29 AM

    Brian, you are missing Michael or Kobe to make that triangle work

  4. omniusprime - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    It’s a shame that the league is too stupid to truly appreciate the Triangle Offense. The Triangle is a thinking man’s offense and it’s true that the NBA players can’t be mistaken for men of intelligence, otherwise they’d be working real jobs doing real work that requires intelligence. Only a few like Michael and Kobe have the intelligence and athleticism to show just how effective the Triangle is. Don’t blame Kurt or Brian for failing by bringing the Triangle offense to other teams, those teams they went to were worthless and no amount of help would have made them better.

    Brian Shaw deserves a chance to bring back the Triangle offense, though Brian needs to mix it up more than Phil did with other offensive schemes. The NBA needs smarter players who can figure it out as well.

    • genericcommenter - Dec 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      “can’t be mistaken for men of intelligence, otherwise they’d be working real jobs doing real work that requires intelligence.”

      What? There are very few jobs that require a high degree of intelligence and/or education that even come close to paying 1/4 to 1/2 of the NBA rookie minimum.

      I have a very high IQ, with very little occupational “success,” and if I had the tools to play in the NBA I would certainly give that a chance. People are endowed with different skills and traits in life, and intelligence is often just as much a function of genetics and good luck as being tall, strong, and fast. I would never begrudge anyone for getting the most out of his natural abilities.

      Besides, if you want a “real job” of intelligence and have the opportunity, you can always play ball 8-10 years and stockpile your cash and go to grad or professional school at age 30-32.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:00 PM

        In his own way I think omnius was trying to say that a high salary doesn’t necessarily require smarts and that intelligence is no guarantee of making good money. See Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian, Snooki, etc., for examples of the former and every dedicated teacher, first responder, cop, etc., for the latter.

  5. chicagofan - Dec 1, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    How many championships have the Lakers and the Bull’s won with the Triangle? Miami could win that 6,7, 8 championships that were boasting about if they use the Triangle. Lets hope they don’t figure that out.

    • kinggw - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      The Lakers and Bulls winning championships had a lot more to do with having the best players in the league at the time versus a gimmick system.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 2, 2012 at 11:01 PM

        Being the defending champs I’d hazard a guess that, until they are dethroned, Miami has the best players in the league.

  6. LPad - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    yet D’Antoni keeps getting jobs. With his no post up offense.

    The triangle offense has over 11 rings (I say over 11 because the lakers ran it in the early 70s when they got Wilt and just about every successful coach has incorporated its priniciples into their offensive approach. heck, even Pat Riley used elements of it). The triangle is ingrained in basketball much like the motion, pick n roll, high low and so on. Brian Shaw just wants to run it a majority of the time which is no different than other coaches who want to run motion the majority of the time or something else.

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