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Brian Shaw says playing and working for Phil Jackson hurt his previous chances at becoming a head coach

Jun 26, 2013, 1:50 PM EST

Phil Jackson, Brian Shaw AP

There was an outpouring of support for Brian Shaw this week when he finally landed a long-deserved head coaching spot with the Denver Nuggets.

Shaw was a part of five NBA championships as a player and assistant coach, and more than paid his dues along the way, most recently rising to the top assistant position with an Indiana Pacers team that pushed the eventual champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Those championships all came with the Lakers, however, and came with Phil Jackson running the show. That also meant that the Triangle offense was prominently featured, and Shaw said that having such strong ties to that system hurt his chances much more than it helped when pursuing previous head coaching opportunities.

From the Associated Press:

“I jokingly said to (Phil Jackson), `Coach, I thought playing for you and working for you would be my biggest asset. Actually, it’s hurt me the most,” said Shaw, who’s still working on assembling his assistant coaches. “I’ve never gone into an interview and said, `I only believe in the triangle and this is the system I’m going to run.’ But I understand everyone’s thought process because it’s such a unique system.”

Early on in Shaw’s interview process with various teams, he was planning on installing the Triangle offense, but tried to make it clear he wasn’t married to it. Still, teams were right to be a tad skeptical since that was the primary source of his experience.

Shaw has proven himself at this point by working his way through the coaching ranks, and has done so successfully on the assistant level without being linked to Jackson. He’s finally getting his shot in Denver, although it is odd that being associated with five championship teams and working under one of the greatest coaches of all time was viewed by many as being a negative instead of a positive.

  1. chargerdillon - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Yes…..lets be skeptical of a style of offense that has won 11 championships…..

    Are owners that stupid?

    • spursareold - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      No, players are. Most aren’t bright enough to pick it up, just bright enough to know that it cuts down on their ESPN isolation highlights.

      • fanofevilempire - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:31 PM

        Brian Shaw will win because he is a good coach.

  2. pmx8411 - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Triangle O in Denver

    • badintent - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      With Bozo at Center ? not a chance in hell ! Unless Coach Shaw tell him to stand in the corner and stay out of the way.

  3. unxpexted1 - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I’ve never understood the leaguewide pesssimism over the trianlge. Even while Phil was coaching, it was deemed that it was a system that can only work if Phil runs it. So I dont doubt that teams were skeptical of somebody who’s primary offense is the triangle. Most teams believe the system itself doesn’t work.

    • zxrated - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      It’s simple, Phil said you need a triple post threat the likes of Kobe or MJ to run the triangle the way he did.

      • unxpexted1 - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        Maybe so, I would love to see what the triangle would look like on a team with no stars so I could see the system at it’s purest form.

        Just throwing stuff out there, but I think the pacers have the kind of team for the triangle offense.

      • justinnoah - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        IMO, Phil’s comments about the triangle are worth gold. Everyone else’s comments about it? Kind of useless.

  4. itsonlyaspeedbump - Jun 26, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    It’s good that Shaw isnt married to the Triangle because Jordan, Pippen, Shaq and Kobe arent coming to play for the Nuggets.

    Players on the floor>coach on the sidelines.

  5. thestewman3 - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    The Triangle hasn’t worked anywhere other than when Phil ran it with stacked teams.

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      AHHHHHH!!!! You guys are driving me CRAZY with these “stacked teams” bull-ish! Aside from having 2 top-tier players on both the Bulls and Lakers as well as one 2nd tier star(Rodman/Grant/Rice/Armstrong). Both squads on any given season under Phil had a bunch of role players that played their role to a T with great coaching from the Zenmaster himself! Really there were bench scrubs and glorified role players left and right! Stop this nonsense, all of you. I don’t want to hear about Phil with “stacked” teams ever again.

      • itsonlyaspeedbump - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

        Here is where I object to the idea of Jackson being the Zen-Master Next Level genious that people make him out to be—if you have the best players, especially in basketball, you often win regardless of your system.

        You think Eric Spoelstra is some kind of genious coach in the making? I mean, he beat Thibs, Vogel, and Coach Pop in consecutive series. Doesn’t that make him a great coach? It’s his system that led to their success right? Yeah, I don’t think so either.

        You don’t win 11 championships if you suck, so obviously Jackson isn’t a total fraud. But he’s sold the idea of himself really, really well…

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:25 AM

        Respectfully, I don’t think you really understand the nuances of the game.

      • justinnoah - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        I think Phil is one of the best coaches ever. But I also don’t ignore the fact he did have MJ, Pippen, Shaq and Kobe. It doesn’t diminish his accomplishments in my mind, but his teams had legendary talent. Is that stacked? I don’t know. And I also don’t care that don’t want to hear about it again. I was fine with the rest of your post.

    • badintent - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:54 PM

      Exactly Riley ran a version of it with Anthony Mason doing the Scottie Pippen act. Manson was great passer, and a smart player. The stupid NY media always portrayed him as an enforcer, but he took care of the ball and had a decent short jumper. Great defender too. Rarely fouled out( did enforce the paint per Riley’s Jordon Rules, no layups, no dunks, etc.)

  6. urodaddy07 - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    The real problem is owners and GMs who give their players way too much say. After you’ve hired a coach, the coach you want, then let him coach. Players should be fined heavily for insubordination to their coaches. Its fine to argue, but players like D. Will and Rondo take it a bit too far.

  7. urodaddy07 - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    wrong post – oops

    • stayhigh_247 - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      yet still relevant

  8. ProBasketballPundit - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    To help clarify this argument; the Triangle Offense was invented by Sam Berry and improved by Tex Winter. It is designed to help teams learn to read the defense and improvise their offense. There are no set plays in the Triangle O because set plays limit the possibilities of an offense.

    The big misconception is that the triangle can only be effective with superstars but it’s actually the opposite. Superstars fair much better working individually and role players have their potential maximized by ball movement within the triangle offense. MJ and Kobe hated the triangle but Phil Jackson was able to get them to buy in just enough to win 11 championships. Even Phil will admit that sometimes it’s best to just let a superstar do his thing, but teams become much more confident and competent by working in the triangle offense.

    • felisberto - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      wrong,the triangle offense was invented by Phil Jackson.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 26, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Unless it was actually Phil Jackson running the triangle offense at USC in the 1930s and 40s, then I think you might be wrong!

  9. northstarnic - Jun 26, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Boo hoo. Everybody’s a victim.

  10. onlyavoice - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Bandwagon Idiots.
    The Guy Has NEVER Coached A Team In His Life,
    But That Doesn’t Stop People Praising His Coaching Abilities.
    I Guess Vouge Never Asked Shaw How To Win
    & That’s Why The Pacers Lost To The Heat.
    Rookie Coaches Play The Veterans Down To The Ground Trying To Build Their Record.
    Very Seldom Do They Use Young Players.
    Don’t Expect Much, Except A LOT Of Excuses From Him.

    • justinnoah - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Is that how you talk to people in person? Calling people idiots doesn’t say much about you.

      • amlowlife - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        Actually, it says A LOT about him…

    • justinnoah - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      I have no idea how Shaw will do as a coach, I don’t think it makes any sense to suggest he’ll be great or suck either. The fact is he has NBA playing experience, has won championships as a player… and he’s been an Asst Coach on championship teams, has learned from perhaps the best coach in NBA history and has recently played an instrumental role in developing one of the league’s rising stars in Paul George. Does that mean he’ll do well? I don’t know, but I sure as heck wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying about him.

  11. justinnoah - Jun 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    In an interview right after he got the Denver job, Shaw said he will NOT be implementing the triangle offense in Denver.

  12. cornbreadbbqred - Jul 2, 2013 at 2:03 AM

    Mediocre, over-achieving players often make good coaches. They know how to motivate those less gifted than the superstars to get after it and round out a roster, as well as to motivate developing players to buy into continuing to grow. That being said, this is the very profile of Phil Jackson as a player, they least talented and most over-achieving of a talented Knicks roster.

    However, I view Shaw as having been lucky, and in the right place at the right time with the Lakers. With their roster during his playing days, he was left wide open and alone so often, he must have felt like the three in the forest falling. I could have hit his quote unquote “big” shots during his playoff stint, and had all day to dress up for dinner waiting for the swing pass to launch his shots. This is in stark contrast to his mentor, who did all the little things, and contributed tenacious D to the Knicks championship seasons, while being the one to make the key passes.

    “One rain does not a river make”, I believe a British poet wrote some time ago. I can’t say that river is going to run through Denver.

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