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Mike Brown calls Brian Shaw a "peer of mine"

January 22, 2012 | 11:03 am

The two remain linked over wanting the same job.

Brian Shaw hoped he would succeed Phil Jackson last year as the Lakers' head coach after spending five seasons as an assistant. But after the Lakers fell in a four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals, Lakers executive Jim Buss wanted to move away from the triangle offense and everything associated with Jackson. Shaw feels he was kept in the dark about his future with the team.

Mike Brown also wanted the spot. He was one season removed from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who fired him to appease LeBron James even though Brown's five-year tenure brought them to the 2007 NBA Finals, two Eastern Conference Finals appearances and a 272-138 record. Brown dazzled the Lakers' front office with his interview and got the gig.

Even though they had been competitors for the Lakers job, when the two appeared at Tim Grgurich's coaching clinic in September, Shaw reached out to Brown and offered his support.

"It was my first time really being around Mike Brown and I got an opportunity for five minutes to talk to him," Shaw told Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen. "I felt there was this tension or awkwardness between us, and so I got an opportunity at the clinic to pull him aside. I think that so many people in L.A. anticipated or expected me to be the coach, and a lot of people wanted that. I wanted him to know that I really am OK with them hiring him. He got a lot of the negative vibe from folks not because of him and who he is and the way he coaches, but because of the way the situation went down with me. So my conversation with him was, 'I don't have any problems with you. You're more qualified in [a lot of areas].' "

Shaw has since landed on his feet, landing an associate head-coaching job with the Indiana Pacers. Considering that Brown described Shaw as a "peer of mine," it's possible the two may cross paths when the Lakers host Indiana on Sunday night at Staples Center. It could be a follow-up to their conversation in September. Brown only characterized their initial chat as a "friendly, congrats, hello, that type of thing." But it's clear Brown appreciated the gesture.

"It's always good to make sure you have relationships," Brown said. "You never know. Our paths may cross one day."

Shaw's return to L.A. will be a reminder of how much things have changed with the Lakers. Instead of a triangle offense, the team is making a transition to Brown's read offense. Instead of maintaining continuity in their roster, the Lakers have made wholesale changes, including letting Shannon Brown go through free agency, trading Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks and pursuing what Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak a month ago described as "multiple big deals."

The team's players, led by Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, strongly supported Shaw as Jackson's replacement. But they've come to embrace Brown's philosophies.

"We were more disappointed for him in terms of the experience," Fisher said about Shaw's not getting the head-coaching gig. "Not because of any particular favoritism or we didn't like Coach Brown compared to Brian. I think it just symbolizes what happens in this business. There is no loyalty. There are no guarantees. When you see someone you're close to go something like that when you know it's tough for them, it's disappointing in that fashion. Brian is a tough guy. He's a winner. Just like he has already landed on his feet, I think he still has a bright future in this game."


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--Mark Medina

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