My old teammate and fellow Bay Area native Brian Shaw is rumored to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the current Cleveland Cavaliers owner (Dan Gilbert) does sign Brian Shaw then I believe the chances of LeBron James staying in Cleveland will go up dramatically. Brian Shaw has instant credibility having played in the NBA for years and as a basketball mind he’s not only a point guard but he’s either played in the triangle offense or coached it for much of the past decade. When I was on the Lakers B. Shaw was one of the few players that had the complete respect of Shaq and Kobe both. Most importantly he has not only NBA playing experience, but championship experience as a player and as a coach.
When there were problems in the locker room it was Shaw who was able to communicate with everyone on the team from the best player all the way down to the 15th man. Sometimes he would reason with Phil Jackson in team meetings about strategy or different things going on with the team. One day during such a time, Phil Jackson laughed and told Brian that “he should really consider going to law school when he was finished with his playing career.” Obviously Phil respected Brian’s basketball mind so much he didn’t give Brian time to take the LSAT and brought him directly into the Lakers fold.
My prediction is that the new credibility that Shaw brings will absolutely play a factor in increased odds that LeBron James stays in Cleveland. With the mayor of NYC making overtures to LeBron and practically every other team in the NBA trying to woo him, things seem to be getting a little bit brighter in Ohio.
If he does NOT stay in Cleveland, how can he turn Chicago down. It’s a large media market with a great young nucleus of talent with Rose, Noah, and Deng. But my prediction is that he’s going to stay in Cleveland and a few years from now a newly minted banner will be hanging from the rafters.
Mark Blount has been having a monster season for us and tonight he did it again. There are very few seven footers play in this league who can MAKE three consecutive three pointers in the last two minutes of regulation….how many seven footers even want to take three pointers in the clutch? Not many. Mark Blount did that tonight in our game against the Lakers and he basically saved our hide by getting us to the first overtime and eventually the second.
Before the game tonight against the Lakers, I caught up with one of my favorite all-time teammates: Brian Shaw. Brian is an assistant coach now with the Lakers and is on his way to a very successful post basketball career. When we both played for the Lakers, Brian was the one guy on the team who could pick up his cellphone and call every single teammate at any time. From Shaq, to Kobe to Slava Medvedenko, to Horry to Rick Fox. Forget about his basketball I.Q. for a moment (which is off the charts). His ability to communicate with today’s athlete is a rare gift and something that would serve him well as a GM or as a head coach in this league.
Yeas ago, Brian Shaw played with Kobe Bryant’s dad professionally in Italy (I think the name of the team was Kinder Bologna). Brian told me once that he remembered playing HORSE with a young Kobe Bryant in Italy and being impressed with his skills. After a few years in Italy Brian Shaw came back to the NBA and played alongside Shaq in Orlando during the heyday of Orlando Magic basketball. Finally, he was reunited in LA with Shaq and the next generation of the Bryant basketball legacy–Kobe–from 2000 until 2003.
Needless to say Brian Shaw was that veteran type of player that Shaq would listen to, he had a great relationship with Kobe, and then he could go to Phil with suggestions. One time Brian thought we were practicing too much during training camp and breaking the collective bargaining agreement rules. He brought it up in a team meeting and Phil Jackson just smiled and laughed and said, “Brian you should really go to law school when you are done playing in the NBA.” Given that Shaw played for Phil Jackson and now is an assistant with Phil shows the respect that Phil has for him. There are a lot of teams in this league that would benefit from the skill set that Shaw brings to the table.
It was fun to play against my former team and to beat them tonight. I look back on the three years I played in L.A. under Phil Jackson and I have great memories. In a lot of ways, Phil was the one who really helped me to gain confidence to be able to compete at this level. Today, I saw in the media that Phil and Smush Parker were having some kind of public feud going on. It happened a few times when Phil would go at it with Shaq and Kobe or someone else on the team while I was there–either right there in practice or through the newspapers. The interesting thing is that once Phil got his point across to the player and the player responded, the relationship with that player would quietly simmer down and sometimes even seemed stronger in the days that followed.
I had a few friends at the game tonight. Some of them thought they saw Jack Nicholson at the Target Center. I guess my other buddy Enrique told them that they were mistaken and the man was really just impersonating Nicholson. Can anyone out there confirm or refute this? I guess that is just a random point of interest.
Well, I’m going to enjoy this victory tonight and the great performances of KG, Ricky Davis and Mark Blount especially. We have the Lakers again in Los Angeles in a few weeks and I know they’ll be trying to make a statement so we have to be ready.
Every month I will answer a few emails that I receive so here is our monthly installment.
“What are the off-the-court personalities like of your teammates?”
U. of Minnesota
Kristin, I’m glad you asked me about my teammates. Let me first speak about two Europeans and then two players who go by two letters only: KG and A.C.
Marko Jaric: Six years ago I played on the same team with Marko at the NBA pre-draft workout in Chicago. Marko was such a good passer that he made everyone else on the team look like an all-star. He pretty much got two of us drafted in the first round: myself and Primoz Brezec (Charlotte Bobcats). Marko used to always joke with me that he is responsible for getting me two rings with the Lakers. He might actually be right. That’s what Marko does…he makes people better.
Michael Olowokandi: Michael was living London when he decided he wanted to go to school in the US. He picked up a college magazine, found University of Pacific at the top of the list and called the coach on the phone. Imagine if you’re a college coach of a small school in Stockton, Calif., and an athletic 7-footer comes calling! I imagine that coach focused on the word “Pacific” rather than the fact that the beach is at least two hours away! When I was on the Lakers, Phil Jackson used to always tell Brian Shaw he should go to law school because in team meetings Brian could argue any point and by the time he was done talking everyone was on his side! I put Michael in this category. Michael once told me that he subscribes to The Economist and The New Yorker. He is probably one of the smartest players in all of professional sports, and has been playing at a very high level.
KG: On every team there is a hierarchy and KG is the undisputed number one on our team. On the court, KG will expend every ounce of emotional and physical energy. But what makes KG truly great is that he gets everyone else to give their whole self as well. One time during a game, he got so excited that we almost head butted each other while he was yelling encouragement. Another time he thought I wasn’t paying attention during a shootaround so he put me on the spot and said, “Dog, how are we going to defend Sacramento’s ‘out’ play?” Luckily I had been listening because I gave the right answer. KG is a vocal leader who leads by example. After certain losses I’ve seen him call guys out in a very vocal way and I’ve also seen him walk in and pat guys on the head and say, “There are better days ahead.” One thing with KG is that when he does get on you, it’s never personal, he just wants to win. KG just donated 1.2 million dollars to rebuild homes in New Orleans. His heart is gigantic on and off the court.
Anthony Carter is a true professional. He is one of my closest friends on the team. We stayed in touch off and on over the summer and during training camp two years ago we always carpooled together to St. Johns. If you’re ever in downtown Minneapolis and you see a lime green Hummer with really shiny wheels, it could be AC. I’m not going to say it is AC because there are lots of lime green Hummers in Minnesota, but it could be him. I think AC designed a lot of that car himself. I am not a car person, but I guarantee that after seeing “The Lime” you might be thinking about getting a custom green paint job for your car. That’s how sweet the ride is. AC is always one of the first players to get to practice and games every day. I like to call him “Air Conditioner” because he plays so hard and the other team can’t turn him off. Coach Casey loves his professionalism and tenacity.