Brian Shaw: Phil Jackson Had Enemies in Lakers’ Front-Office

After getting passed over for the top coaching job in Laker-land, Brian Shaw landed in Indiana as an assistant to Frank Vogel. He tells SI that Lakers owner Jerry Buss son, Jim, is now completely in charge (*gulp*), and was no fan of Phil Jackson: “Shaw believed his experience in the triangle — supplemented by his understanding of other systems — would help him become the Lakers’ new coach when Jackson retired after their second-round sweep by the eventual champion Mavericks. 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. ‘Phil let me know going into the interview [with the Lakers] for me to almost disassociate myself from him, that anything that I said about him or the triangle system would hurt me because of his lack of relationship with Jimmy Buss,’ Shaw said. ‘So when I did interview, that was the point that I tried to make about the fact that I had played for Phil only my last four years, and that I played for all of these other coaches.’ They met at the home of Jerry Buss, where Shaw was interviewed by Jerry and Jim, along with general manager Mitch Kupchak. Shaw spoke of how he had been a point guard for six NBA franchises before finishing his career with the Lakers from 1999-2003. He mentioned that he had played USA Basketball in 1986 for Lute Olsen and had tried out for John Thompson’s 1988 Olympic team. Yet he found himself having to defend Jackson during the interview, he said. ‘There were some things that were said that I won’t really get into,’ Shaw said. ‘It was kind of bashing Phil Jackson, that I just refused to just sit and listen to. And that’s when I said, ‘Hey, I love Phil Jackson. I appreciate everything that we’ve all been able to accomplish under him. We’ve all prospered since he’s been the coach here.’ Told of Shaw’s comments, Kupchak said he and the Lakers will always appreciate Jackson’s 11 seasons. ‘Phil and I have a great relationship — I was with him two days ago and we sat down for an hour a week ago,’ Kupchak said. ‘We had been to seven NBA Finals and won five Finals with him, and this organization is eternally grateful to have had him as a coach. I don’t know what you’re referring to what took place in that meeting. I don’t even want to speculate. … Phil has been very, very good to this organization and city, and we are very, very grateful to have had him as coach. I consider him as a friend and somebody I owe a lot to personally.’ But Shaw says Kupchak wasn’t the one speaking poorly of Jackson. ‘The negativity toward Phil didn’t come from Mitch,’ Shaw said. ‘It was more from Jimmy Buss just doubting some of the decisions he made in terms of how he was handling and running the team and coaching the team on the sidelines, and sitting down instead of getting up. People look at coaches and want them to pace up and down the sidelines and bark instructions to the guys. That’s not Phil’s demeanor. That was viewed as a negative in my estimation — but it won him five championships with the Lakers and six with the Bulls, and that was his coaching style when he won, so why was that not acceptable now?'”