Brian Shaw Speaks, Lakers Don’t Come Off Well

Darius Soriano —  July 16, 2011

First it was the news that Kobe Bryant was not consulted or given a heads up that the Lakers were going to hire Mike Brown. Then, it was the interview that former assistant GM Ronnie Lester gave, detailing how the Lakers dealt with him and many other staffers when their contracts expired.

And now it’s Brian Shaw, in an interview with the Kamenetzky Brothers for ESPN Radio 710, explaining how he wasn’t told that he wouldn’t be getting the Lakers’ head coaching job, what his relationship was like with Jim and Jerry Buss, and some of his views on the Lakers as a whole as he moves on to be the associate head (aka the lead assistant) coach with the Pacers. Go listen to the entire interview to get his full perspective.

Shaw’s interview is simply another negative p.r. hit for the Lakers and, ultimately, Jim Buss. Fair or not, the younger Buss has not built up the good will that his father has and these types of reports only hurt his perception with those that support the team. And while he did a good job of opening up and pulling back the curtain on what type of executive he is in an interview with the LA Times, Jim Buss still has a ways to go to overcome some of the negative connotations associated with his stewardship.

Darius Soriano

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to Brian Shaw Speaks, Lakers Don’t Come Off Well

  1. It worries me that Jim Buss has his own bartender (if reports are correct).

    If true, it makes him sound like somebody who makes drinking too central a part of his life.

    Oh well, time will tell.


  2. I wouldn’t take what fired employees have to say very seriously


  3. So let me get this straight.

    – Jim Buss was never interested in basketball or the Lakers for most of his life.

    – He was the insider during the summer of Kobe’s trade demands.

    – He lets go of Lester after two decades of service.

    – He doesn’t have the decency to inform Shaw that he will not be hired.

    – He butted heads with Phil’s coaching philosophies.

    – Jeannie does not think he is fit to run the organization.

    – He seemingly shows more respect and support for an injury prone Bynum than the franchise player, and arguably the greatest Laker of all time.

    – He does not even consult Kobe before Brown’s hiring.

    For years, I’ve been dreading the day that Jim takes over this franchise, and so far, everything he has done confirms my beliefs that he is not qualified or ready to run this team. He shows no respect for his long time employees, the coach, the franchise player, and his own sister, and by most accounts, nobody in the Lakers organization has any respect for him (except His father and possibly his personal bartender). He’s headed for a long uphill battle to earn some respect from the fans.

    – He


  4. This ‘Jim Buss fear’ came up with the drafting of Andrew Bynum – i.e. years ago. The media has never cottoned to him and, ergo, the reports are all bad. Surprise! Surprise!
    While I am not a big Jim Buss fan, I don’t think his body of work can be argued either way.

    Look back at many star players who have crossed the media – Kobe Bryant anyone? – and you will find an almost continuous chorus of criticism of everything that person does, from crossing the street to tying their shoes. If you insist on getting 100% of your information from the media, instead of doing some digging on your own, you will be a very ill-informed individual.

    Yes, I do have an axe to grind, but the media has a well-earned reputation for failing to check the facts before reporting and slanting their information to fit their own biases.

    There are certainly questions about Jim Buss as he takes over the Lakers from two loved individuals (Jerry Buss and Jeannie Buss), but you only have to go back to 2005 to see intense questioning of Jerry Buss’s ability, to say nothing of Mitch Kupchack. Ironically I have to agree with Aaron here – ex-employees may not be the best available information out there and we should all absorb the latest interview with a grain-of-salt.


  5. In a way, I see some parallels between Phil Jackson and Kareem, in that both were generally perceived throughout their careers (rightly or wrongly) as arrogant and aloof by management and ownership (Lakers’ and otherwise), as well as by the media.

    When they were active, no one could argue with their phenomenal success. As soon as they were gone, all the grievances were aired.

    One big difference, of course, is that Kareem was a player and therefore a solo entity, who has had to bear this fallout by himself. Jackson, as a coach, has some company, but those who were closely associated with him – like Brian Shaw – are the ones really feeling the repercussions now.


  6. There are so many kinds of hoops media that we follow, may it be our major dailies LAT, OCR and then there is the ESPN, TNT and so forth which I consider for every basketball fans consumption. Talking about biases, biases are like egos and every analyst has his own biases. However, there is one columnist that fans do not generally admire and his name is T. J. Simers. The rest are messengers of information taken from 3rd party and so far LT is spot on the evidences he enumerated about Jim Buss in his initial months. As Laker fans, we hope JB realizes his shortcomings and listen to these rumblings like when he turned silent after Summer of ’07.

    I have a question for the rest of the posters, which do you consider as the predominant problem of the Lakers in the next season? A starting PG or the reign of Jim Buss?


  7. #6. As someone of Filipino descent, I’d appreciate if you didn’t call that country “Phillybeans”. I, personally, don’t think it’s funny.

    As for former employees speaking out against the team, I think it’s fair to take their comments with a grain of salt, but not to disregard them completely. By all accounts, Shaw and Lester are upstanding individuals and none of their statements seemed particularly spiteful.

    I, along with about 50 of my “co-workers” across the state, were laid off from a job a few years back and my direct manager came to me before the larger announcement was made to the group letting me know what was going on, why, and did his best to explain everything to me. I always appreciated that as I thought it showed the character of the man I was dealing with.

    Long story short – and this from someone that has taken a wait and see approach on Jim Buss – the stories from Shaw and Lester don’t reflect well on the younger Buss.


  8. I think the thing I take from the shaw interview is the “new direction” they want to go. Shaw states, paraphrasing: I was there for 12 years and went to 7 finals and 5 championships. I don’t know what new direction they want to go.

    That’s the same thing I thought: if it ain’t broke why fix it?


  9. The Lakers are a modern day example of a kingdom. Jerry Buss was the former king and ran things his way.

    He always wanted to have an exciting show, so he was in love with the “Showtime” Lakers.

    Buss also wanted to win, so he took a chance on Jackson and his triangle. Success followed, but Buss wanted the grass on the other side, again.

    However, the reign of the older Buss is complete and he’s handed it to his son, Jim.

    Jim is the new king in town and is trying to put his stamp on the team. It’s no fun living in your father’s legacy and wants to start his own.

    That is what Jerry Buss inspired Jim to do. Follow your gut and make the tough controversial decisions. You’re going to be scrutinized either way, so just do what you think it’ll take to win.

    It just appears that Jim Buss is blazing his own path and doesn’t mind making unlikable decisions. He’s a young king, he’ll learn his lessons.


  10. 11, either that or he’ll turn out to actually be insane and start burning random people at the stake.


  11. >>Jim is the new king in town and is trying to put his stamp on the team. It’s no fun living in your father’s legacy and wants to start his own.

    I happen to not be able to stand trust fund babies. The Lakers ARE a legacy of Jerry Buss – he had a vision to make the lakers to basketball what the yankees are to baseball and he largely followed through.

    Jerry is a scrappy self-made man – his son was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and we are in for dark days as laker fans if/when he takes full control of the team.


  12. Even the Laker ownership is so Hollywood. Almost reminds me of the movie Inception – son not happy about dad and has interesting ideas of his ‘own’ that he believes will finally earn his dad’s trust… or something like that.

    Anyway, we were lucky to have a great owner in charge. We were lucky to win so many in our lifetimes, and well, it seems like our luck is about to run out… in all facets of the Game, from player to owner to coach to the staff.

    I’m still optimistic that we’ll be competitive, but being competitive is worlds apart from being champions.

    To be a champion requires serious mojo, and I don’t see little Buss having much of it.


  13. Warren Wee Lim July 17, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Jim Buss makes me 2nd guess my citizenship in this “kingdom” coz its 1 thing to want his own footprints/imprints and to do the insane disrespectful stuff he has not apologized 1 bit for.

    Darius, you’re part Pinoy? No wonder we’re such a great blog 😀


  14. #9

    Another correction Knickers not of spite but for information of everyone. In the Philippines, the word “Filipino” is spelled “Pilipino”. There is no “F” in their national language, however since it sounds similar it was accepted as-is like euphony in phonetics. Even though the country was named after King Philip II of Spain, its citizens were never referred as “Phillipinos”. Perhaps, a trait to distinguish their independence from their former colonizers.

    As loyal followers of purple and gold, we have to live with the moment. Accept Jim Buss as is, move on to Coach Brown & his assts., bring on the new scouts and deal with the changes as they come. Let’s all change with the change of times. Los Angelinos are patient and cooperative fans “at a certain point”. Remember what happened to the Rams, Raiders and now Dodgers. Lakers tough brass should heed these lessons and put their act together if they want continuity of fandom.


  15. kehntangibles July 17, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Haven’t been following Jim Buss’ reign of error for the same reason you don’t stare too long at a bad accident on the freeway. Has anyone in the media asked him directly about his lack of communication with Kobe and other longterm fixtures in the Laker organization?


  16. smoothaswilkes July 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I’ve long been an advocate of the “wait and see” approach with Jim Buss. Give him time to do his thing. The layoffs and new direction were obviously going to happen with the shift in power. Just the course of doing business. (The first thing a new GM/Owner/Coach does upon assuming the mantle is cleaning house. Owners just have larger homes.)

    What IS starting to concern me is the lack of communication issue that is rearing it’s ugly head. Unpopular decisions, I can live with, but not really talking to employees can create a poisonous environment. Sullying the Lakers reputation as an outstanding organization will have long lasting effects on the team. Not being able to secure talent, whether it be front office, coaching staff, management, or players, will be the real problem down the line.

    Hope Jim Buss can learn from his mistakes and fix what I’m starting to perceive as the real problem.


  17. if you want to see the Lakers future, look at the Knicks’ last 10 years — or however long Moran the Younger has been ru(i)nning things. the Lakers won’t win another title until they have new ownership.

    children of the wealthy, like our own beloved dauphin, really do live in a permanent fantasy zone. his priorities and goals are completely foreign to your, mine, the players, his dad. in short, he and those like him have a kind of madness.


  18. The similarities between Jim Buss and Andrew Bynum are pretty amazing. They both got promoted into the NBA at a young age, with all the the money and privilege that entails. And they both talk about wanting to have the right attitude, and trying to learn. The difference is the Buss, at 51, is no kid.

    Maybe we should give Buss the benefit of the doubt, but there are dozens of professional sports franchises that are managed (badly) by the whims and egos of their owners.

    And not to pile on, but failing to talk to Phil Jackson? I’m pretty sure the correct approach to talking to the most successful NBA coach ever is to learn every single thing you can, not maneuver to get him out of your spotlight as fast as possible.


  19. i heard the real reason Brown got the job, was because of the killer margarita he makes.


  20. The last comment may have been in jest, but it exactly epitomizes the fan reaction to a change in a successful organization. They absolutely will brook no changes, even if they are needed.

    I too, question some of the things going on around Jim Buss, but – since I don’t really know the facts – will give him some time to see how the ship is going to be run before I change my allegiance. If all of you will remember, it was Jerry Buss, first, then Phil Jackson who finally ran off Jerry West. There were egos involved with these people as well.

    Truth be told, IMO, all the Lakers were getting pretty tired of the triangle and their execution of it seemed to be devolving, rather than evolving. I think we needed a fairly severe change upon the retirement of Phil Jackson. So far Mike Brown’s selection of assistants and advisers seems to be pretty strong. Also, this lockout is going to be long and tough. This means ties had to be cut with many in the organization, because the Buss family cannot just let the Lakers hemorrhage money – it is their only business.

    If anything, the way this has been handled has resulted in such a blow-back that I suspect Jim Buss will be more careful in the future. In any case, it was inevitable that big changes be made and some people being very upset with them.


  21. I’m going to give Jim Buss a little more leash before making my final judgment, but I have to say that I’m not a big fan of his so far.

    #3 does a good job summarizing a few reasons why, but I do want to pile on a bit on the whole, “lack of communication” angle. It smacks of arrogance, and that’s the one thing that you just can’t have when you have Jim Buss’ job.

    He kind of got a mulligan on the not talking to Kobe before hiring Mike Brown issue, but the consistency with which reports are surfacing that he just does whatever the hell he wants and people will have to live with it are unnerving. People matter in this business.

    I sure hope that Jim Buss doesn’t end up to be the Laker equivalent of Jim Dolan.


  22. Funky Chicken July 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    For crying out loud, there sure are a lot of overly sensitive Laker fans here. It is clear that Jim Buss could have done a better job PR wise, but so far his actual decisions (to the extent that we can attribute all the offseason decisions to him–which his father says you can’t) have been totally reasonable.

    It would have been classier to handle he communication part of the job better, but slamming the owner over bad communication isn’t what is going on here. Instead, too mant people are suggesting (or fearing) that Jimmy is another James Dolan, neglecting the fact that what makes Dolan so bad is that his DECISIONS are terrible.


  23. It’s all politics.

    From all the reports from the lack of communication (Shaw, Jackson, Kobe) all said that there was never much of an established relationship. Shaw said he never had much interaction with lil Buss. A relationship is a two way street, and hopefully with this handcrafted selection, Buss will go further to have a better business dialogue and relationship.

    I wonder why Lester would get axed, since he’s the one that notified Buss of Bynum in the first place. That one still perplexes me.


  24. @Darius Soriano, I did not know that we came from the same decent. Way to go brother!!


  25. #27. Yeah, I’m half on my dad’s side.

    As for Jim Buss, I think the major thing he can do is continue to help foster an environment that produces championships – or at least contention for them. Dr. Buss is viewed the way that he is simply because of the success he’s had in pro sports. If he wasn’t the face of a franchise that has won as much as it has, he might get more negative press about his lifestyle. But the fact is, he’s seen as a winner and everything else is a footnote. The same can be true for Jim but it will take time – and banners – to get there. In the end, this may not be fair, but that’s how many will see it.


  26. I must say I find this hand-wringing about the decadence of buss jr. and the simultaneous deification of buss sr more than a little amusing. while it is true that senior made his own money, he has always been a notorious womanizer known for keeping thick volumes of photographs of his conquests (scantily clad, naturally) which he would use to impress his friends and guests, there’s been all kinds of drinking and also drinking & driving stuff, and he failed to attend chick’s funeral for no apparent reason (and wouldn’t answer questions about it). His attendance at Lakers games – including championship ones – has always been spotty. Sometimes, he’s seen playing poker (which used to be called gambling before it experienced its own deification) during critical playoff games, often playing at local casinos no more than 15 minutes from the stadium.

    He owns my beloved team and wrote the checks that created its culture(s), but let’s not act like the lakers have been stewarded by woodward and bernstein and now have been handed to murdoch. I’m not a moralist– I don’t care what buss sr or jr does in his spare time, but to try to connect these people’s personal lives with their successes and failures (historical or projected) as the team’s owners is, in my mind, pure insanity. I agree that junior comes off as goofy; so did his dad. Let’s hope he follows his father’s example of surrounding himself with smart basketball minds and opening the checkbook when appropriate. trying to evaluate the likelihood of that by how he wears his hair does not seem to represent this blog at its finest.


  27. Although I’m in the wait and see camp regarding Jim Buss, I have misgivings about him and would have much preferred to see Jeannie take over the team.

    That said, his camp has done nothing to combat all the negative press and ammo being lobbed by Jeannie’s media supporters. Chief among them Lazenby. I’m not sure how to take this. Is it a good thing he refuses to be drawn into a public war of words? A war of words that he will lose because he doesn’t have as many friends in the media as Jeannie and by extension Phil? Or is it a bad thing because it shows how out of touch he is?

    And if we’re going by results, then to be fair, let’s not all forget that Jeannie has been on record that she was against Phil’s hire the second time around and lobbied against it. But Jerry and Jim were for the hire despite the circumstances surrounding his first exit.

    If Jeannie is going to get credit for running things right. Then Jim should also get credit for going with Phil the second time around.

    I think there’s a lot of nuances and behind the scenes machinations that most of us are not privy to. That’s one of the main reasons, I’m really trying to keep a level headed wait and see attitude instead of jumping into wild proclamations about Jim’s abilities.


  28. #29 & #30. Both very good perspectives. Remember too that it’s easier to portray the Lakers as floundering because of their recent loss in the playoffs. It’s opened the floodgates for many to criticize the organization and with the transition away from Phil it’s only amplified the voices. As we normally try to say around these parts, time will tell. Right now, though, it’s the talking heads that feast.


  29. The Lakers did not go about this situation correctly. Shaw had been a very good assistant for a while and they should have informed him of their decision.


  30. 30

    I totally agree with your perspective that Jeannie B. should have inherited the Lakers top brass. She is more popular and attached to the Laker fans and I’m sure she would not be foolish to pretend to know all the intricacies of basketball decisions by herself. She would form a committee like her Dad to decide in getting players, coaches, outside business or marketing tie ups and the day-to-day management of the team. At the end of any season, it is very refreshing to get the smile of a Laker Genie or the charming woman Jeannie Buss. It is really none of our business, Jeannie seemed to have inherited the cheerfulness of her Dad with all kinds of dysfunctional relationship with Phil, at end of the day, no complaints whatsoever and everything is just fine and dandy.

    On the other picture, we are not too familiar with the world of Jim Buss, wanted to embrace him being a loyal fan, but afraid to, because of first bad impressions: covers his face with a hat, long hair and looks grouchy in any picture released by the media. Perhaps, these are PR problems emanating at the onset of his era. Besides the first impressions, the decisions being made were unpredictable and do not jibe with the old Buss graph or from the pages of the old Lakers tradition that we have been accustomed to and been indoctrinated by the late “golden throat”. Instead of a lone teacher, he has been replaced by multitude of voices from these golden blogs.


  31. @30,

    Jeannie was lobbying for Phil to return to the Lakers in 2005. I’m not sure where you are getting your info. “Jeannie played a central role in Jackson’s return, lobbying both Her father and Phil for the past few months.”


    Jim’s personal life has very little to do with the criticism he has been getting. Most of the criticism is centered around letting go of long time employees in a non-Laker like (AKA classless) fashion, his feud with Jeannie and Phil, his infatuation with Bynum, his disrespect towards Kobe, etc. I’m not concerned about his personal life, but I AM concerned about his abilities to manage people and his basketball knowledge. Based on his decisions and actions, he seems to be more like Donald Sterling, and less like his father. Let’s hope he gets his act his together because the window of opportunity is closing for this potential dynasty, and he has very little room for error.


  32. Hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer. I thought id weigh in on two sports franchises facing similar expectations. My beloved Lakers and the NY Yankees. Two new second generation owners Hal Steinbrenner and Jim Buss. Both men are trying to stamp their respective franchises with their individual marks. In nature when the old lion retires the young lions want to gain the respect and admiration of their predacessors. It is normal for young men to want to out perform and stamp something “their own”. Isnt it ironic that Hal is “disrespecting” Jeter, Mariano, and Posada. They were his dad’s guys. Likewise, Jim is trying to make his mark with Bynum and the other young lions. If Hal and Jim win guess what? No one will care about all of this, BUT, if they dont then floodgates will open and rightfully so. You have the greatest player of this generation, Kobe, Jim you better win, you may think this is your team but its not. Its Kobe’s team and the fans of the Lakers. We expect to win and win with style. If Mike Brown can produce a WCF and/or a championship, i think we will all be satisfied, BUT, if there is friction, if the team doesnt win, then there is going to be a backlash, not from the players, but from us the fans. Jim the reason no one cares if your dad is misogynistic and a gamble, is because he won for US. Like Al Davis says, Just win baby and all is forgotten.


  33. kehntangibles July 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Can’t locate a good source atm, but I’m pretty sure that what Jeanie said was that she was opposed to hiring Phil the *first* time around, in 2000. Before, of course, he Zen Mastered her.

    Whatever truth there is to the Jim vs. Phil/Jeanie feud needs to stop now. It WILL have ramifications, indirect or no, for the team’s on-court performance. Moreover, this is a battle that Jim Buss just flat-out cannot win in the public arena.


  34. I’m not going to pronounce judgment on Jim yet because I love my Lakers more than I do self-pity, but the early signs of his stewardship of our team are not good.

    Treating loyal long-time employees like B. Shaw as he has is worrying. His treatment of long-time Laker Ronnie Lester is also less than impressive. Yes, perhaps there is some vindictiveness from B. Shaw but I doubt it. We’ve known him for some time and he has always seemed like someone who was respected by everyone on a team (remember he was tight with Kobe AND Shaq even at the height of their feud).

    Jim Buss is something of an unknown quantity and given that the Lakers have been so successful under the stewardship of his father and GMs Kupchak and West, fiddling with such a successful formula is not popular. Perhaps he is trying to impose his mark on the franchise. I don’t care. When your father has established a winning formula-hire people who know the game and get out of the way-don’t mess with it. Perhaps B. Shaw is not being completely honest. I don’t know. I hope in some ways he is a little vindictive as that might indict him less regarding his treatment of B. Shaw and Ronnie Lester (also a champ with us in ’87). As I said, I won’t be judge, jury, and executioner on him, but the early indications are not encouraging.


  35. Edwin,

    Re: your first comment in this thread, while I’ve been plenty vocal about Jim Buss over the past months, I see the point guard situation as a more predominant issue. Knowing you as long as I have, I suspect you feel likewise?


  36. Dave M,

    I’ll give you three answers. In the short run, it’s the length of the lockout (possible no NBA season in ’11-’12); and if there will be a season who will be the PG starter (Fisher again) and in the long run which I mean two seasons from now, it would be JB’s plans. There are some big decisions to make within two seasons and let’s see where the Lakers are heading.

    Yes, you’re right we’ve known each other in this anonymous setting for quite sometime, Rick F. was still around, I’m now at withdrawal pace, mellowed and humbled. lol!


  37. @ #35 LT Mitchell, I misspoke about the date and was incorrect in my original statement. I was thinking about the original hire.

    The pertinent quote: “As a matter of fact, when my dad said he was talking to Phil Jackson about him coming to LA to coach the Lakers, I tried to argue against it. Phil had been in Chicago for so many years with such success, I felt that he would come in as a big personality. We already had two really big personalities in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. I felt that Phil would disrupt that. Thankfully, my dad doesn’t listen to me for basketball decisions.”