Shaw: Jackson suited for front-office role

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
7:38
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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DENVER -- There are few people on this earth who understand the inner workings of the Los Angeles Lakers -- both past and present -- as well as Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw.

After having been a teammate of Kobe Bryant's for four seasons and an assistant coach on Phil Jackson's staff for an additional six, Shaw's decade of experience with the franchise makes him uniquely qualified to talk about the pair of Lakers legends.

Brian Shaw, Phil Jackson
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrian Shaw, left, spent many seasons beside Phil Jackson with the Lakers and knows the impact his former boss could have in a front-office role.
Shaw was not surprised to hear about Jackson potentially being linked to a front-office job with the New York Knicks, as Jackson would offer up his thoughts on piecing together and managing a team when Shaw was on his coaching staff.

"He did talk about it," Shaw said. "One of the things he's big on, not necessarily the most talented guys -- obviously you want to have talent -- but he liked guys that were winners, and when he looked at guys that were going to be drafted out of college, he wanted guys that came from winning programs and that understood [how to win] as opposed to a guy who maybe was a star of his college team but his college team wasn't very successful and guys that understood and were willing and able to play whatever role it was.

"Because, when you think about it, his teams that he had, in Chicago, he had great players -- two or three on each of those teams. Same way in L.A. -- he had two great players -- but the rest of the guys that were built around those stars that he had, those superstars that he had, were guys that understood their roles and accepted their roles and had very high basketball IQs and bought into what he was trying to do. So, obviously, from the starting point, he had [Michael] Jordan, he had [Scottie] Pippen. In L.A., he had Kobe and Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal]. But the coaches that he took over for had those guys, too, but he was able to do something with them that they weren't able to do. So that kind of goes to his coaching ability and his ability to have everybody play in unison regardless of their personalities and what have you."

While Jackson's 11 championships as a head coach are unmatched in the sport, Shaw says he believes the 68-year old's coaching days are over.

"Going back to the last year that we were all together [in 2011], I don't think at this point that he would really have the energy to [coach]," Shaw said. "Like a night like tonight, after playing last night and getting in at 3:30 in the morning and just going through all that on a night-in, night-out basis, I think he would be more inclined to -- in terms of constructing a team from top to bottom -- be in more of an advisory role or a front-office role, where he can put his imprint on a team in that way."

Jackson could be back in the NBA in some capacity before Bryant plays in another game at the rate the 35-year-old guard is going. Bryant, sidelined since Dec. 17 because of a fracture in his left knee, is scheduled to be re-evaluated in a week, but it remains undetermined whether he will play again this season.

"It's frustrating and just different -- as he expresses it -- it's just different for him to be in the situation that he is," said Shaw, who spoke to Bryant a couple of days ago to find out if the 18-year veteran was making the trip to Denver. Bryant did not. "I think, for the first time, and these are my words, but for the first time, I sense frustration because it's a situation that he can't fully control because these last two injuries with the knee and the Achilles right before that are ones that they can be pretty devastating and they allow you to come back on the injury's time, not on your own time, on your own terms.

"So, like I said, I sense some frustration in that all the other stuff -- I've seen him play with broken bones in his fingers, come down and land where his [turned] ankle just touches the floor -- his willpower to overcome that and his pain threshold is so high, he's been able to overcome those situations, but Father Time always catches up with us, and as you get older it takes longer to heal, and I think that's what he's dealing with. Like I said, it's a different situation for him."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
26.4 4.1 1.2 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 9.8
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.5