Brian Shaw was Phil Jackson’s lead assistant and right hand Jackson’s final few years in the league. Which is why Shaw isn’t the coach of the Lakers today — while he was the first choice of Kobe Bryant and the other Lakers players, management wanted a clean break from the Jackson era and went another direction entirely.
Then less than two years later, they went another direction entirely again, this time with Mike D’Antoni.
But they didn’t make that second change until after an awkward flirtation with Jackson again. One that had Lakers’ fans, Jackson, pretty much everybody thinking it was Jackson until an abrupt midnight call. Jackson said he is good with it, not angry at all.
But Shaw — who was never seriously considered this time around — is not happy with how the Lakers dealt with Jackson, he told the Los Angeles Times.
“Under the circumstances, Phil Jackson, who’s been there and done that and put a lot of money in everybody’s pockets around here, the way it was done . . . it’s mind-boggling,” Shaw said Monday in an interview with The Times. “I was joking with him, at least you got a phone call, even though it was midnight.
“In 11 years he was coach here, he took the team to the Finals seven times and won five. I don’t know if any of the other 29 teams would have done him the way he was done [by the Lakers] after he had done so much for the organization and the city.”
I’m not going to beat the dead horse here — the Lakers ended this with a better coach than they went in with (D’Antoni is an upgrade over Brown with this roster) but a PR black eye. As with all things Lakers, the only thing that ultimately gets the fans to forget is winning. It all. Because fair or not, D’Antoni is now replacing the legend of Phil Jackson, who many fans are convinced would have won a ring.
No pressure, Mike.