Okay, so people make mistakes.
And now Buss has the opportunity to redeem himself by hiring the guy that he should have brought in a year and a half ago. Short of Phil Jackson making a third return to the Lakers (and let's not rule that out), former Lakers assistant coach and player Brian Shaw would be the ideal choice to take the reins at Staples Center.
The one major hurdle for the hiring of Shaw is that he has no head coaching experience. He is currently an assistant head coach for the Indiana Pacers and was strongly considered for the Lakers job when Jackson left after the 2010-11 season. The Lakers, who will conduct an immediate national search, would need permission from the Pacers to contact Shaw.
"Brian Shaw is a younger Phil Jackson," said ESPN radio's John Ireland on Friday morning. "If the Lakers hire either Shaw, Phil or Mike D'Antoni (former Knicks and Suns coach), the excitement meter is going to go through the roof."
Shaw is perfect for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that Kobe campaigned for him back in 2011 when Jackson left. The two developed an extremely strong bond during the four years that Shaw played with the Lakers and the ensuing seven years that he served as an assistant under Jackson.
Shaw has five championship rings with the Lakers, three as a player and two as a coach. He's an expert at the triangle offense and would most likely hire some of the former staff that worked together under Jackson, including Frank Hamblen and Kurt Rambis, who is an in-studio analyst for Time Warner Cable Sportsnet's Lakers games.
D'Antoni is an intriguing possibility because he coached Steve Nash in Phoenix. But Shaw is a better candidate because he has five rings. D'Antoni has none. Brown has none. The Lakers should hire champions. Shaw is a champion.
When Buss first hired Brown back in 2011, one of the main reasons was because Brown knew how to build a strong defensive unit, and that is what the Lakers needed. What he failed to realize at the time was that the Lakers needed a coach who inspired them and commanded their respect.
That never happened with Brown. The team never bought into his system and patience wore thin, as the team lost all of its preseason games and started the regular season 1-4.
Shaw was one of three candidates interviewed for the Lakers job in 2011 but was unceremoniously left out in the cold and never contacted after the Brown hiring. At the time, Shaw told Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke that he felt odd not being contacted. Yet he showed class in never criticizing the team.
It's a little strange, going from 11 years and five championships to essentially being out on the street. But I can feel good knowing that I did everything possible to represent the Laker organization as well as I could.
I just know that I wanted to be a Laker for a life. And obviously, I thought I would.
It didn't happen, but that's what second chances are for. Shaw is part of the Lakers family, even if he sits on a bench in Indianapolis. He'll reinvigorate a team that has all of the right pieces but is searching for a heart and a soul.
The Phil Jackson speculation is flying and will continue to do so until he's either rehired (50/50) or the team goes in another direction.
As much as fans would love to see it, the chances of Jackson returning would seem to be slim.
At the time of Jackson's last Lakers departure, it appeared that Buss and the Lakers wanted to rid themselves of everything connected to Jackson, including Shaw and the triangle offense. They felt that it was time to move on and try something new.
But people make mistakes. Jim Buss made a big one in hiring Mike Brown, a nice guy with a tremendous work ethic who just never got his team to play for him.
Buss has grown into his role as executive vice president of the Lakers. He, along with father Jerry and GM Mitch Kupchak, will make the final decision on who they hire to replace Brown.
They now have an opportunity to hire a coach who will not only get along with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, but command their respect and help instill a championship mentality that's been missing under Brown.
Now is the time to get it right. Now is the time to hire Brian Shaw and give him the job that he was tailor-made for.
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