Brian Shaw had Kobe Bryant’s support, among others, to become the Los Angeles Lakers coach upon Phil Jackson’s retirement.
The Lakers bypassed their longtime assistant and went with Mike Brown. Shaw has moved on in a reunion of sorts.
The Indiana Pacers introduced Shaw on as their new associate head coach Tuesday. He will work alongside Pacers coach Frank Vogel, a man he knows from their days on Los Angeles’ staff together during the 2005-06 season.
”We really established a special connection back then,” Shaw said. ”A good friendship. We stayed in touch over the years.”
Shaw was considered a head coaching candidate during his time with the Lakers, and Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher publicly supported his bid to become Jackson’s successor. Shaw said he tempered his expectations.
”I understood all along that nothing was a slam dunk,” he said. ”I didn’t expect for anything to be handed to me or given to me. I was very appreciative of the comments and the support that I got from our players during and after the season.”
Shaw is fine with the way things played out.
”I don’t have any hard feelings at all because things are changing there, and there’s an opportunity here that I’m excited about,” he said.
Shaw isn’t sure what his new title entails, but he appreciates it and considers it confirmation that he’s nearing his goal of becoming a head coach.
”I’m getting close, so I guess it’s a stamp that says I’m just about ready,” he said. ”But to me, I’m just another assistant coach.”
Vogel said Shaw is more than that.
”He’s a guy that, quite frankly, I didn’t think I was going to be able to get,” he said. ”He’s a guy that’s been in line to be a head coach for a number of years. I view him as having almost like a second head coach with me.”
Vogel said the hiring shows that the Pacers are moving in the right direction.
”There was interest in him around the league, and he chose to come to Indiana,” he said. ”It’s indicative of what we’re building here. People want to be a part of this team and this city right now. It’s going to be a special era.”
Shaw said Indiana’s fans are knowledgeable, and he likes the idea of coaching in a place where basketball is the key attraction.
”A lot of time, the fans in L.A., and it’s not a knock against them, but it was a lot of celebrities, and people come to see who they can see and who’s at the game instead of what’s going on in the game,” he said.
As an assistant for Jackson, Shaw said he learned from the best.
”One of the things that I really admire and respect about the time that I was able to spend with him was how he dealt with his personnel, different egos, and unified them and made them all one,” he said.
Shaw wants to display Jackson’s demeanor.
”I’ve never seen not just a coach, but a man, so patient,” Shaw said. ”You could be down 20, you could be in Game 7 of the Finals and need a critical play out of one of your players, and he was always on an even keel. That’s what I hope rubbed off on me and I will be able to imitate it at some point.”
Vogel said Shaw’s collection of experiences — he won three NBA titles as a player and two as an assistant coach — help make him an ideal addition.
”There’s guys that are special and guys that are qualified,” Vogel said. ”We’ve got a special candidate here.”
The Pacers also retained Dan Burke from the previous staff and look to add a third assistant soon.