The Lakers' hiring of former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown last month was surprising enough as it was. Mainly because the two-time defending champs -- heading into 2010-11, at least -- appeared to have a ready-made replacement for former boss Phil Jackson already in hand in Brian Shaw, Jackson's self-styled follow-up. Shaw didn't get the gig, though. Which wouldn't be that big a deal, had Shaw been informed about his loss in an appropriate way. And not via the airwaves.
Shaw, who was recently introduced as the Indiana Pacers' associate head coach, had to find out that he wouldn't be a Laker anymore by people who didn't work for the Lakers. Nicely done, Lakers.
Here's Shaw, speaking to ESPN Los Angeles, the other day:
"I wasn't really told anything. Unfortunately, I found out about not getting the job and who was getting the job on ESPN. I didn't really talk to anyone for about three weeks after that. At that point, just from all the speculation and what I'd heard, it felt like the powers that were making the decisions felt like the team needed a change of culture and a new voice, and to head a new direction. That's what I was told. I thought that was kind of peculiar, because in the 12 years that I had been there, and I know the 11 years that coach Jackson had coached, all we had done was go to the championship seven times, and won five championships. I just 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 there's been a change in power, I guess to say, in terms of who's calling the shots from this point on and that's the direction they wanted to head in. I can accept that ... I didn't expect anything to be handed to me."
You don't have to read between the lines or even read the rest of the interview (though you should) to realize that Lakers "GM" Mitch Kupchak isn't really running things these days in Los Angeles. Though it is not a given (or even a likelihood) that Kupchak would have hired Shaw if given the power, it appears as if Jim Buss (son of owner Dr. Jerry Buss) is calling the shots -- reaching deep into his long and storied career of being Dr. Jerry Buss' son to pounce on and act upon his basketball instincts.
Here's Shaw's take on Mitch Kupchak's "role," these days:
" [...] 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, and do what they say do. [...]"
Yeah. So … everyone welcome Jim Buss! Head of your Los Angeles Lakers!
(And everyone wish Brian Shaw well in Indiana.)