Prior to the Los Angeles Lakers hiring Mike Brown after the departure of Phil Jackson in 2011, many had hoped Brian Shaw, assistant coach under Jackson would be the next to hold the coaching throne. Shaw had won three championships with the Lakers as a player (2000-2002) and two as an assistant coach (2009-2010). Instead, the Lakers went in a different direction and Shaw went on to become an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers before agreeing to a well-deserved head coaching contract with the Denver Nuggets.
Before the Lakers first preseason game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, the media caught up with Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw. Shaw discussed his thoughts regarding the Lakers deciding to stick within the Laker family their third time around with the hiring of Byron Scott. Plus, having both coached and played with Kobe Bryant, Shaw gives us his perspective on what he expects from Bryant in his final two years.
Initial thoughts when you heard Byron Scott was the new Lakers head coach?
Brian Shaw: I was happy for him. I think that for the first time in a long time, the Lakers brought back somebody that was kind of in the family and that was in the profession. I think he’s a good coach and he had success with the organization. And he’s a local guy being from Inglewood, so I was happy for him.
Is it important to have someone coach that is in the Lakers family?
Shaw: Well, I think it’s important. It’s just like when you send your kids off to school. You tell them when you go to college, pick a major, you hope that they graduate and then there’s a job waiting for them in the field that they studied. So he played in the organization, won championships with them, had major success in that area, went into coaching. There’s been several coaching vacancies over the years, and to finally get a chance to … I think there’s been Larry Drew, Eddie Jordan, I know Kurt Rambis got a quick little taste, Byron, Michael Cooper, they have all been in the coaching field, that all played for the Lakers and had great success there. So to have one of their own, you see it happen in other places, so it’s nice to have it happen there.
On his expectations for Kobe Bryant this year:
Shaw: Regardless of what the NBA is doing physically, mentally, he’s going to think that he can do everything that he did 15 years ago. He’s going to go out, he’s going to compete, and he’s going to try to will his guys to be better than what they thought they normally would be. But, I think it’s still going to be a process for him. It’s the first time he’s been out for this long so to get back, kind of going through the same thing with (Danilo) Gallinari, just getting over that mental block of getting out there on the floor, and really testing things out. But if anybody could come back and be effective and play at a high level, it would be Kobe.
On whether or not it’s a good thing for Kobe Bryant to be the Kobe of 15 years ago:
Shaw: Yeah, I mean, obviously everybody is not on the same level as him. I remember my last year or two playing, in your mind you still think you can do all the things you did before. Sometimes the ball bounces right in front of you, seems like all you have to do is reach out there and grab it, [but you] never end up being able to really get it. But that’s kind of the fun part too. He’s played the game so long, that the game has slowed down for him. The one thing that I’m not worried about in terms of him is all the years we played, especially under Phil, he spent probably 15 to 20 minutes every single day doing the most basic fundamentals and the most basic footwork. And so in terms of that area, he’s fundamentally sound. And because of that, he can still get to wherever he needs to get on the floor and create the kind of space that he needs to do what he needs to do out there.
On Bryant being motivated by wanting to write the last chapter of his career and go out on his own terms:
Shaw: That’s something he’s better suited to ask. I think that in his mind he probably feels like basically his last two seasons. He kind of got robbed of being able to set new marks in things of that nature. Everything else is left to be seen. We all know how competitive he is and how great of a player he’s been over the years that he’s been playing. Now, he has to figure out a different way of getting it done and everybody who has played as long as he has, has had to do that as well. So now, we just have to wait and see. He’s going to write that chapter.
**Transcription by Alex Chung
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