Blog Entry

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

Posted on: July 17, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 6:46 am
Former Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw is upset by the treatment he received from his former team. Posted by Ben Golliver. brian-shaw

Turns out Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant wasn't the only one who was a little bit worked up over his team's coaching search, which eventually ended with Mike Brown taking the reins from a retiring Phil Jackson. Back in May, you might remember, Bryant expressed surprise that Brown had been named head coach and Lakers VP Jim Buss ended up admitting that Bryant should have been more included in the process. 

This past weekend, former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw also took exception to how the process went down. Shaw, a candidate for the head coaching job and the preferred choice of Bryant and other Lakers veterans, said in a radio interview transcribed by that he discovered that Brown had beaten him out by watching television rather than hearing directly from the Lakers.
"I wasn't really told anything," said Shaw, who had the public backing of players Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, among others, to take over for Jackson. "Unfortunately, I found about not getting the job and who was hired for the job on ESPN. I didn't really talk to anyone for about three weeks after that."
Shaw has every right to expect the utmost respect from the Lakers. Not only was he popular among the players, he had served the organization for more than a decade and been a part of five title-winning teams. In the interview, Shaw expressed frustration not only with how he found out that he hadn't landed the job, but also the tone of the search and the lack of communication between himself and upper management.
"At that point, all the speculation and what I've heard, the powers making those decisions felt like the team needed a change of culture and a new voice, and head in a new direction," Shaw said. "I thought that was kind of peculiar because in the 12 years I'd been there, all we had done was gone to the championship seven times and won five championships. I felt like there were 29 other teams in the league that would love to have that kind of culture and that kind of direction. ... But I didn't expect anything to be handed to me." 

"For whatever reason, there was a glitch in communication. ... I've always had a great relationship and open line of communication with (general manager) Mitch Kupchak so I don't think it came from there," Shaw said. "We've always been on good terms and are still on good terms. I understand in his position there's only so much that he can do even. He has people over his head that he has to follow directions. ... Definitely there's some room for improvement in terms of how ... people are dealt with."
Shaw then added that there "wasn't really much of a relationship" between himself and Jim Buss, who was prominently involved in the coaching search. 

It's no surprise that Shaw is feeling some sour grapes. While he might not have thought the job would be handed to him, he certainly had to feel like he was the favorite with every possible homecourt advantage. To lose the job of your dreams and the fruits of your labors is a devastating blow; to get blindsided in the process obviously only made that worse.

As we've noted before, the NBA coaching ranks is one of the most discreet professions in any industry anywhere. Job security is so low and the carousel moves so quickly that you will rarely hear coaches speak up about anything other than a show of support for their head coach or some minute X-and-Os discussion before, during or after a game. Otherwise, mum's the word. For Shaw to be this open, direct and honest in his appraisal of Buss shows that he truly feels he was wronged.

That's something to worry about, again, for Lakers fans. Good management is not messing up and then apologizing after the fact. Or messing up and hoping no one says anything publicly. Good management is anticipating problems so you have time to prevent them, conducting things by the book, and treating those in the industry by the industry's standards. Clearly, Jim Buss never made things right with Shaw or Shaw would not be airing these grievances publicly. 

The stakes here aren't enormous. We're just talking about a former assistant coach. The coaching search is complete and a solid candidate was named. But conduct during free agency pursuits, trade talks, contract negotiations and the like is of paramount importance. If Jim Buss left Bryant surprised and Shaw peeved during a coaching search, you can't help but wonder who will be next to point the finger at him. 

The silver lining: Shaw landed on his feet with an associate head coaching position with the Indiana Pacers.

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2011 11:13 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

The Lakers were once a proud Organization that epitomized the NBA,in fact at one time the Logo himself, Jerry West was once part of the orgnization.But today with Mitch who was never really a great player for the Bullets as Unseld and others carried him, as Jerry West did before him as GM, we are now stuck with Jimwho wasn't even born when the Laker Dynasty started...but because he was born into the Ownership was handed the reins to a once proud organization that I once thought he has obviously no clue how to run...oh I was wrong he does have a clue, in fact the direction he's running his fathers once proud team to is right below the Clippers!!! LOL

Since: Oct 20, 2009
Posted on: July 17, 2011 11:08 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

I can understand why Shaw was upset with how he found out coaching decision. He should've been shown more respect. As for the rest of them, the Lakers were winning titles long before Kobe, Fisher and the rest of them came along. Their only concern should be getting ready to play under their new coach.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2011 11:00 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

Actually Ben, it does not look to me like Jim Buss messed up by not informing Brian before the announcement. I suspect they did not inform any of the candidates except for Brown. Here is the reasoning: if Shaw gets a phone call telling him they are hiring someone else what is his first response? Call Kobe. What is Kobe's response? Call Jerry Buss. So Jim, knowing this, needed both Kobe and Brian to hear it after the public announcement. That left them no wiggle room. In case Kobe and Brian and Derek Fisher have forgotten, they are employees there and not owners. Owners decide who will coach and it is that very entitlement attitude that causes them to be cut out of the loop.

Why did Jim Buss apologize? Because Kobe is still his one of his franchise players. He needs to assuage Kobe's ego publically. But make no mistake. Phil Jackson and Kobe have antagonized the Lakers much like MJ and Jackson antagonized the Bulls. So a change in culture is needed from their perspective. We will have to watch to see if they begin to break up the team. Should the NBA actually endure a full year lockout it seems inevitable upon resumption. They have had a great run and now need a Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to move back into contention. If the lockout is resolved this year they will more likely try for one more ring.

Since: Apr 1, 2007
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:53 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

Kobe Bryant is a player. Last time he made suggestions it was as to which free agents he felt the Lakers needed to sign. Thank goodness Mitch Kupchack paid no attention to him then as they went on to win the title while Kobe's 'players' were injured and stunk it up with their new teams.
Mike Brown is a former NBA coach of the year and had a couple of seasons where his team won well over 60 games. Meanwhile, Shaw has never been an NBA head coach.
The Los Angeles Lakers franchise is the premiere franchise in the NBA. It is not some place where coaches go to get on the job training. It is where well established coaches who've proven successful at the NBA level dream to one day find themselves being given the opportunity to work. 
Brian Shaw may one day become a successful head coach. The Lakers job was not the right time or place for management to find out if that will happen. It's too valuable a property to trust to an unproven entity. It's that simple.
Jim Buss made a sound business decision, and a correct one at that. Anyone who thinks otherwise has no clue what it takes to run a successful business in this league. 

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:49 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

I am not really sure why anyone on the team would consider Derek Fisher's opinion on this matter.  Sure Fisher has had a long career with the Lakers but his career is just about over if not over.  He is not exactly a star player more of a role player despite being a starter.  Yeah Buss probably could have notified Brian Shaw of the decision, Shaw is probably upset by the decsion but there is obviously reasoning for the decision and the only mistake here was to not notify Shaw of the decsion in person or at least via a phone call.  He was a long time player and assistant with the Lakers. 

Since: Oct 24, 2009
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:49 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

Excellent post. I'm a HUGE LAKER fan but KOBE is no more than a thug. Yes he can play the game of basketball, but to be honest his best days are behind him and the LAKERS would be smart to trade him while he still has value. 
Are you kidding me??  Trade Kobe??  Get a clue dude!! 

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:35 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

The Lakers really screwed the pooch on this one. I'm not a fan of the Lakers or anything Los Angeles, but a dude like Brian Shaw deserved to be spoken to in advance prior to any announcement of a new coach.  Another low moment for the Lakers, following their abysmal and embaressing 0-4 a@@kicking by the Dallas Mavericks. Stay classy L.A. ....

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:54 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

THe problem to me here is not that they picked Brown over Shaw but rather they didnt have the decency to treat a long term employee with any respect. I manage rougly two hundred people, work for a company with roughly 12k people. When I interview people for promotions weather they are entry level, first or second level managers, sales mid level manaers etc I always contact the person I offer the job then ask them to keep it under waps for a few  so you can at least phone the other applicants and let them know they did not get the job.....our Lakers failed that test under former party boy, born on third base baby Buss. As classy as Dr Jerry Buss has been over the years I dont think that would have happen under his leadership.

As far as consulting Kobe, it is common practice in the NBA to consult your star, especially when they are five time nba champs and one of the bet of all least let hi know you made the decision.

Born on third base baby Buss screwed up on both accounts.

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:31 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

Exactly how does owning the team for 32 years make you a novice?  Prokhorov an amateuer? Yes...Jerry Buss? No.  Old and senile? Maybe...novice?  No.

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:22 pm

Brian Shaw peeved at Lakers VP Jim Buss

A mess?  Please tell me why you think Brian Shaw was more qualified for the job than Mike Brown?  Because he knows Kobe and Fisher?  Shaw has never been a head coach and actually played with these two.  They look at him as more of a friend than as a authoritative figure.  Mike Brown has a proven track record and showed he can get the most out of role players and has a solid defensive scheme while still being able to score and provide an exciting brand of basketball.

If the Lakers were to go by your logic why don't they just name Kobe GM and Fisher assistant GM.  Hell why not bring in DJ Mbenga and make him head coach the guys really liked him.

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