To say that Brian Shaw wouldn’t be the Nuggets new head coach without his initial interview with Indiana would be a lie. It set the course for his entire coaching career, up until now.
And let’s just say it didn’t go so well.
“The very first interview was actually with my old teammate Larry Bird,” Shaw recalled, while the NBA legend was the executive Vice President of the Pacers. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘I’m not going to hire you for this job.’”
Shaw vividly remembered that moment some ten years ago, a period in which nearly a dozen other opportunities to become an NBA head coach came and went.
Bird’s brutal honesty wasn’t without warrant though. He was merely giving Shaw the first of what would be a long line of opportunities to be named a head coach in the league. It was chance to see the play ahead, to anticipate what is to come, which is something that the former point guard knows all about.
“I think you’re going to be a good head coach one day and I wanted to start the process for you,” Bird went on to tell Shaw. “I was disappointed for a second but then I understood what he was getting at, and I appreciated that.”
Shaw was able to expand his knowledge of game as an assistant under Phil Jackson in Los Angeles and Frank Vogel with the Pacers. And that while it has been a grueling process to make the jump to head coach, his decade of preparation on the bench has primed him specifically for a job like this one.
The Nuggets brass certainly believe that Shaw, young and yet wise like general manager Tim Connelly and President Josh Kroenke, fits in Denver.
“It gave me more of a comfort level,” said the 47-year-old coach of the hiring process he is well versed in. “It’s just a matter of getting people comfortable with you and the way that you are possibly going to lead their team.”