Brian Shaw and the Jackson Disciples

If you’re familiar with former Lakers players and coaching staff, Brian Shaw is rarely unheard of mainly because he has a great resume. If this is the case why has it been so difficult for Brian Shaw and other assistant coaches under Phil Jackson to find head coaching jobs in the NBA? It seemed to those around the league that Brian Shaw was getting prepped for the head coaching job for some time. Why was Shaw not hired and how come none of the other members of Phil Jackson’s coaching staff was considered to replace Jackson as the head coach of the Lakers?

With most of the NBA off-season news topics centered on the NBA lockout and negotiations between the players and owners, the bitter end between Brian Shaw and the Lakers has recently resurfaced.
It is no secret that Brian Shaw is one of the most qualified candidates for a head coaching job in the NBA. He has an impressive resume including 15 years as a player in Europe and the NBA, as well as being a part of Phil Jackson’s coaching staff in L.A. where he was able to build strong relationships with big time players like Kobe Bryant, while meshing attitudes and personalities from across the spectrum in order to create championship caliber teams.

“I talked to him last week,” Shaw said of Jackson, according to “I said to him, ‘I never realized how many detractors you have out there.’ Because when I go out on head-coaching interviews and if I mention the word ‘triangle,’ it makes general managers and owners cringe. They don’t want to hear about the triangle offense, they don’t want to hear about Phil Jackson. It was funny, even when I came here to Indiana and I sat down with them, jokingly Larry [Bird, the Pacers’ president] was like, ‘I don’t want to hear anything about that triangle bull****.’ And that’s kind of the attitude that everybody has.”

This is the type of attitude that is believed to be the reason behind the lack of interest in the “Jackson Disciples” and the triangle offense, which defined Phil Jackson’s career as a head coach. Both of Phil Jackson’s previous assistants, Jim Cleamons with the Mavericks from 1996-98 and Kurt Rambis with the Timberwolves from 2009-11, tried and failed to install the triangle offense with other organizations.
Reported by, “I interviewed Brian four years ago and we talked about that,” Bird said. “He said, ‘I like the triangle, it’s great, but you’ve got to have the right players to run it. I would use part of it, but it’s according to the talent that we have. You’ve got to have the right guys.'”

Despite the overall opinions of Brian Shaw and the other “Jackson Disciples,” Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant thought as well as other teammates thought Shaw was ready for the head coaching job of the Los Angeles Lakers. Although, Ron Artest has been quoted saying the “failure against Dallas was a reason why Shaw did not get the job.”

Brian Shaw says he was not told anything why he did not get the job and found out he wasn’t getting the Lakers gig when he saw ESPN announce Mike Brown’s hiring.

Shaw says, “The powers making the decision needed a new voice…that is what I was told.” It’s hard to imagine rocking the boat after Shaw has spent twelve years with the Lakers, eleven with Phil Jackson, and went to the Finals seven times while winning five championships.

It is unfortunate but this seems to be the trend in the business. Brian Shaw says he found out he was traded from the Celtics to Miami from a voicemail on his answering machine. “Sometimes the business does not go according to protocol,” says Shaw.

All in all, Shaw believed his overall experience coaching combined with knowledge of the triangle offense would help him become the Lakers’ new coach when Jackson retired after their disappointing loss to the Mavericks in the playoffs. Instead, Jackson was concerned for Shaw’s future in L.A., because Jim Buss was taking control of the Lakers from his father, Jerry Buss, the most successful owner of the NBA’s modern era.

Next Page: Distancing Shaw from Jackson

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