Josh Kroenke: Welcome everybody. Obviously we have some big news to share with everybody today. We have hired a new head coach. It was an interesting process, the first time I have gone through it in basketball. It was exhausting to say the least, I am sure Tim [Connelly] can relate to that and in some ways Brian [Shaw] can as well. It was fun, when the process started in Los Angeles about a week and a half ago Pete [D'Alessandro] was still here. We had a really nice meal getting to know one another and then brought Brian in for an interview last week. It was a great process with some wonderful candidates and ultimately our conversations between Tim and I came back to Brian. I know he has some big shoes to fill, George Karl did some amazing things for this franchise and I want to thank him one last time before we turn the page to the Brian Shaw era with the Denver Nuggets. There is a process to winning at the highest level and I think that Brian's championship experience both as a player and a coach is going to be invaluable to our roster. I am really excited to see what he can do and that being said I will turn it over to Tim for some quick words.
Tim Connelly: I think as Josh mentioned it was an enjoyable process being able to talk to so many great basketball minds. I joined the process late, but a name I have always admired from a far is Brian Shaw. We have a million of the same friends and it is kind of funny over the course of our conversation how much we know about each other without having a real relationship. There is not many guys who break into the league with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and also play with Kobe Bryant and work with Phil Jackson and the championship pedigree that he has. We are unbelievably fortunate to have a guy of his caliber leading our team. I can't wait, I am very excited.
Brian Shaw: I want to first say hello and thanks. I want to also say how humbled, blessed and privileged I feel to have this opportunity in front of me. Mr. Kroenke is one of the most respected owners in all of professional sports and to have the opportunity to work for him and to work with Josh as well as with Tim. As Tim said, we all have known each other from a far without really knowing each other. We have a lot of friends in common and a lot of people we have worked with in common. As much as they were interviewing me I was interviewing them as well.
I have been fortunate to be around great players from the time I entered into the NBA in 1988 all the way through to when I retired as a player in 2003 and the guys I have been fortunate to be around like the Red Auerbach's to the Larry Bird's and the Jerry West's even announcers like Chick Hearn. I feel that I have been prepared by the best for a long time and I have been looking forward to this opportunity. I have been able to be in a position to not necessarily sit back because it has been a grueling, grinding process but I am a lot more relaxed now then I was at this time yesterday.
Just looking forward to coming here and working with these guys and trying to lead this team to where I think we can take it. For me from the beginning of the time I came into the league till the end the organizations I have been with it has been championship or bust. That is the pressure that has been associated with the teams I have been with. I love this roster I think it is young, fresh and energetic I have a lot of respect for Coach Karl and what he has been able to accomplish throughout his career. I am not trying to come here and fill his shoes.
I want to build on the good things he was able to do with this team and create my own legacy and put my own stamp on things with the help of these guys. I am 47 years old and I still feel like I am very young, like I said even though I am creeping up on 50, I am a young coach with an old soul. I have these two gentlemen here who are young and I am excited about the freshness of all of this and all of us going through this for the first time together.
Shaw on his time as a role player in the league and how that will help him relate to the players on this Nuggets team?
Shaw: As you said that was pretty much my position throughout my career I feel as if I can relate to role players in a unique way. The team I just left in Indiana was a true team, we didn't have a star player, we didn't have a go to guy who you can just give the ball to and say go get me a bucket. This Denver Nuggets team reminds me of the team I just left in Indiana. With that being said it was a great feeling as a coach to have a real true team that you have built trust and believe in one another.
Quite frankly from one night to the next you didn't know what you were going to get from one specific player because they were young. With young players comes a lot of imperfections, there is a lack of life experience and a lack of life experience. One of the things I pride myself on is actually getting out there and putting in the sweat equity and being patient yet firm in developing young players. This team is full of young players with a lot of promise and it will be my job to get them to play to their full potential and squeeze as much juice as I can out of the fruit.
Kroenke and Connelly on what they liked about Shaw.
Connelly: Well I think the first thing is obviously the championship pedigree. We are fortune to talk to a lot of very bright basketball coaches who have successful experiences. But with Brian some of the names he mentioned are truly the legends of the game. I am not sure there is another guy who can go from Red Auerbach stories to Paul George stories. I think is overall experience both as a player and as a coach and being around minds that we respect so much perhaps separated him from the pack.
Kroenke: There were a lot of wonderful names that we interviewed and a lot of wonderful peolpe. That was one of the best parts of the process I think for both Tim and I was we realized there are a lot of great basketball coaches in this world and around this league. To separate Brian from that group was tough, and that is no disrespect to Brian because I think there a lot of good people that were out there. For Brian and our current roster right now I think with what they have done in Indiana over the last several years was attractive to both Tim and I. From the Paul George's of the world to the Lance Stephenson's I see some similarities there with guys on our team. I see Quincy [Miller] sitting over there and Kosta [Koufos] in the back, we have young guys who like to work and are hungry to get better and I know Brian is going to help them see that through.
Why do you think it has taken this long to land a head coaching job and how frustrating has it been?
Shaw: At times it got frustrating, but at the same time I looked at it as it allowed me more time to learn and get better, also see different ways of doing things. I think I got tight casted as a triangle guy and I played for seven different teams and a ton of different coaches my last four years obviously I played for Phil Jackson and I coached under him for a number of years. That system is unique, and I think going forward in the job interview process a lot of people just assumed that I was married to and was going to bring with me wherever I went.
It just came down to not really anybody taking a leap of faith and giving me an opportunity. That is why I say I am so humbled and feel so fortunate and bless that Josh and Tim have given be that opportunity and taken that leap of faith. Going from coaching under Phil Jackson to coaching with and under Frank Vogel I saw two different ways of doing things. Phil was very unique in the way he did things and Frank came from a video coordinator background, which he did things more along the lines of how other teams do things. I get to kind of mix and blend both of their ways. I am proud to say I am from the Phil Jackson tree and I am proud to say I am from the Frank Vogel tree. I don't dwell on how long it has taken, I am here now and I am going to make the most of it.
How hard will it be to implement a philosophy?
Shaw: The philosophy is that it comes down to getting a group of guys to believe in one another and play together as a unit on the offensive side and the defensive side. That is still up in the air for right now. I have to familiarize myself with the roster a little bit more, watch a lot of film, interact with the guys between now and the start of the season to see what situation would be more conducive to the skills of the guys on this team. I know that they were a very effective running team and they attacked the rim very well. That is something obviously something that I want to continue to do because they were very, very good at it.
I think one of the things that happens and what you see is that with my experience with the Lakers is that playing and coaching against the Phoenix Suns when they won 60 games in a season, playing the up and down style that it doesn't necessarily translate well when you get to the playoffs. One of the areas that I want to kind of strengthen is, obviously we will still want to attack and get up and down the floor, but the ability to play in the half court and execute in the half court because that is where you get judge on in the playoffs. When you get to the playoffs and you play a team seven times, they possibly hone in and take away the things that you do well. The game slows down and you don't see a lot of games played in the hundreds so you have to be able to grind it out.
One thing that has to be consistent is, with our Indiana teams we struggled to score but we were a very, very good defensive team and were one of the best defensive teams in the league from the beginning of the year to the end. That is something that you have to have every single night. You have to pride yourself on giving yourself a chance to win when they take away the running game, you have to be able to execute and defend.
What kind of weight do your 5 championships have in the locker room?
Shaw: It carried a lot of weight with the young players that I was dealing with in Indiana. Not just the championship rings. It helps but when you play with great players; Shaq, Kobe, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and you have guys that play the position that those guys played and know the work ethic that they had and how they carried themselves on and off of the court and how that led to longevity in the league. I've played with a ton of hall of fame players; with and against.
When I had a young player come to me like Paul George or Lance Stephenson and they just wanted to cut corners, I would just remind them that the other guy on the other coast in LA that plays your position that is one of the best to ever play the game, doesn't cut corners. He comes in and puts in his work and respects the game, he takes care of his body. That carries more weight than the rings at that point because they know I've been around them, played with them and coached some of those guys of that nature and that ultimately carries a lot weight.
How do you get this current team to be a great defensive team?
Shaw: You have to work every day. Everybody buys into it and you have to make sure everyone on the team understands in order to win you have to get on the floor without the effort. It is not the most fun thing to do and you have to have the desire to stop people and do some of the dirty work things that it takes. I don't think it would be that hard of a sell because this team is young, hungry and have shown the ability to work hard.
When you put the analytics and the numbers in front of them then it shows that they were one of the most high powered offenses in the league and it showed the most improvement must come on the defensive end. If you are tired of seeing this team end its season in the first week in May, and you want everyone to watch you play into June instead of you watching everybody else then that is the area that we have to shore up. That's what we plan on doing.
On how a sense of freshness attracted Shaw to Denver.
Shaw: Obviously I talked about some of the names going back to Red Auerbach when I first came into the league and the league has changed a lot. It is still a league predicated on the players; that is who the fans pay to come see the most. But in talking to the players they're amazed at when I came into the league how short our shorts were, that we didn't have cell phones, and social media and everything that comes into play now that wasn't before.
When you coach now, you have to coach in a different way to relate to what's fresh and what's happening now. You have to put your strongest staff around you to support you and I think for me is it's going to be important for me to coach the players. The [assistant] coaches will coach the plays and the system that we try and implement but it will be important to connect with the players and coach the players because of the every changing of the game.
This is a young team. I have kids 12, 14 and 20 years old that kind of keep me in the loop of what's going on right now and ironically enough they are closer to the age of the players. Having a young owner and a young general manager that can also relate that's where you make your biggest mark. They don't necessarily care how much you know, they want to know how much you care. I've been through a ton of things in my life that puts things in perspective for me so when I sit down with a player and I say ‘I know how you feel, I can relate to that because I've dealt with that,' they feel it. I'm not just talking and it is stuff that I really have been through. They look it up, now you can Google everything, and when they do that and see that they know you can relate to everything. That's how I make a connection.
Like I said, these two guys sitting here are closer to the age of the players as well. When I was with Phil Jackson he would say something like ‘We're playing too slow, we're playing at 33 RPM's and we need to play at 75 RPM's.' The players didn't react at all. I would tell him coach they have no idea what you're saying because they don't have records. The freshness of it is just being connected to what's going on these days.
How close is this team to being a contender?
Shaw: I think very close. There are a lot of similarities between the two teams. The length of the players, there are bigs with size, perimeter players have size and you have player in Ty Lawson that has a chance to be an elite point guard. By the end of the season he was playing as well as any other point guard in the league. The similarities are endless.
When the rule of verticality came into play a couple of years ago, Roy Hibbert picked up on it and understood it and worked at it. He became one of the best rim protectors in the league. He's not athletic and he understands that rule and use it to his advantage. When I see players like JaVale [McGee], [Timofey] Mozgov, or [Kosta] Koufos who understands his limitations as a player and understands how to keep himself between his man and the basket. Someone like McGee who is long as Hibbert is and way more athletic then I see them being able to protect the rim the same way we did.
When they buy into our schemes and the way we want to play defense that is the main area of improvement. The 57-wins during the regular season was a great story but I'm accustomed to playing and going far in the playoffs and playing into June. That is something that is going to be emphasized and stressed on a daily basis. I'm looking forward to working with these guys and start planting that seed.
You're known for developing big men. Can you talk about some strategies to develop JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried from an offensive standpoint?
One of the things you have to do is coaches get faced with difficult decisions. If this guy isn't a polished player, we're not going to run any plays for him or we're not going to put him in a position to score. They have to put in the work but you also have to use them and put them in a position to succeed and you have to live with some of the mistakes that they're going to make as young players.
You have to be patient with that but at the same time be firm. I can live with those mistakes as long as I know the player is putting gin the time and working at it. It may cost you a win or two here during the regular season but as long as we're building and getting better and preparing ourselves for what we're going to face in the playoffs so we can count on this guy to make this move and make this shot or knock down these free throws, that's the ultimate goal.
You just have to use them effectively and not just have guys out there on the floor because they're not as polished as you would like them to be. It's a process. It takes time. But if they're willing to work, I played with the young Shaq and saw him develop in a lot of areas from just overpowering and dunking on people to developing a nice little touch on the jump hook and turnaround jumper. Same thing with Andrew Bynum and Roy Hibbert. I don't see it being any different. From what I hear everybody on this team is willing to work. It should be fun.
Tim, what do you remember of Brian Shaw the player?
Connelly: I was a Maryland fan growing up so I remember a tournament game against his alma mater, Santa Barbara. One of my favorite players gorwing up was his old teammate Reggie Lewis. I have a lot of memories. I'm probably creeping Brian out right now with all these memories.
I have vivid memories of the young athletic Brian Shaw, somewhat above the rim, as he morphed into a real heady coach on the floor. He was part of some successful teams, not just the leakers. He had a huge part in the success they had in Philly. I remember a lot. I think a lot of the skills you saw from him as a player kind of being a step ahead, understanding personalities, those things will translate perfectly into his new role.
Are you aware your hometown (Oakland) is the least favorite town in Colorado?
Shaw: I thought about that on the way over here. If there was going to be any football questions, I was going to try to say that I followed Peyton Manning from Indianapolis to Denver and try to stay away from the fact that I'm from Oakland and grew up a Raider fan. I know the rivalry here.
You've interviewed for a number of NBA jobs. During that process, what did you learn about yourself that you've had to address and improve to get to this point?
Shaw: As with anything else, the more you do something, the more familiar you get with it and the better you start to do. The first interview I ever had was with my old teammate Larry Bird when the Pacers hired Jim O'Brien. The first thing out of his mouth when I sat down across from him was, ‘I'm not going to hire you for this job. But as a teammate, I respected your instincts and your basketball IQ. I think you're going to be a good head coach one day and I wanted to start the process for you.' I was disappointed for a second but then I understood what he was getting at and I appreciated that. It just gave me a little bit more of a comfort level.
You're setting down and you're talking basketball. I played basketball my entire life. I can talk basketball X's and O's with anyone. It's just a matter of getting people comfortable with you and the way you're going to lead their team. another thing I learned along the way - and this came from Phil Jackson - was to distance myself from him and the Triangle Offense. I jokingly said to him, ‘Coach, I thought playing for you and working for you would be my biggest asset. Actually, it's hurt me the most.
I've never gone into an interview and said I only believe in the triangle and this is the system I'm going to run. But I understand everyone's through process because it's such a unique system. it's unique in a way but at the same time, a lot of teams run the triangle, they just don't call it the triangle.
For me, just getting familiar with the process, I feel I've tried to prepare myself the best I could. I just hadn't been given an opportunity. I never felt like there was anything wrong with me. I've been very close. There have been some situations where I had a real opportunity and it wouldn't have been right and I backed away from. I just stayed at it.
My path has never been the easy path. From going to college, I didn't start on my high school team. Still was fortunate enough to get a college scholarship. I transferred schools, got drafted by the Celtics, played one year and went over to Italy my second year. Being traded, being cut, nothing's ever been smooth for me. That's just the way it is. I understand it. I just try to persevere. The more time it takes, the more you learn the more patience you get. Now is just my time and I'm going to make the most of it.
(Towards the end of the video you can see Shaw yell out, "Ball don't lie!" after Ray Allen misses a technical free throw - priceless.)
Going to Europe and leaving the Celtics, having a legal battle with the Celtics, was there a fear you weren't going to be able to get back in the NBA?
Shaw: You grow up your whole life in the United States; you don't say you want to play overseas. I wanted to play in the NBA. But when it came down to it, I was playing basketball and that's what it was all about. That was my first lesson in the business of basketball and contract negotiations. When that didn't work out, I had an option. I have no regrets about going over to Italy and playing. It exposed me to a different style of basketball. As you see now, it's really an international game. It was a great experience.
Coming back was a little scary - especially coming back to Boston. The fans really got on me. They were calling me Benedict Arnold, a traitor. How could I leave a team like the Celtics to play overseas? I understand that, too. Fans are passionate. That was my first lesson on the business of the game. I get a lot of calls and texts from law students in their first year of classes saying they still study the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Boston Celtics vs. Brian Shaw. All these stories relate back to me being able to connect with players.
Death and dying, tomorrow marks 20 years from the date my parents and sister passed in a car accidents. Two weeks after that, Reggie Lewis, one of my good friends and teammates passed away. In terms of basketball and putting everything in perspective, the things I've had to deal with in life, basketball just pales in comparison to those things. But those things helped me prepare for what I have to deal with in this game.
Brian, when did you think this could finally be the spot after near misses?
At the end of the season, I told my agent, Jerome Stanley, this felt a little different. I felt like I was the pretty girl at the dance that everybody wanted to dance with. A little bit different feeling for me. In spite of all that, it was still a grind. It was still rough.
Met with the Clippers, I went to Brooklyn, I met with Josh in LA. While we were sitting down having dinner, Peter got the call from Sacramento, [during dinner, Josh adds]. Nothing ever happens smoothly. I can't even imagine, for me, what I've gone through, is a piece of cake. For josh, executive of the year, coach of the year, a lot of other front office staff he's had to manage. He hired Tim and the draft is coming up and still has to get a coach. What I was dealing was nothing compared to him. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. I'm sure he's probably lost weight and hasn't gotten a lot sleep over the last few weeks ["Thank you," Josh said. "He hasn't even mentioned hockey yet, either.].
Shaw on Ty Lawson:
Shaw: His speed is his biggest asset and his ability to get to the rim and put pressure on the defense. As I've watched him over his years in the league, he's gotten a better feel for the game, in terms of involving his teammates and in terms of knowing when to attack and when players go underneath screens, to be able to stop and knock down perimeter shots. He didn't take a lot of 3s, but he shot a high percentage from the 3-point line.
As he continues to develop, continues to get experience, he's only going to get better. He will be able to balance out those things even better, in terms of involving his teammates and all of that. He's the first line of defense and also the first line of offense. His leadership abilities are going to continue to grow as well. I'm just excited. That's a very important position, probably the most important position out there on the floor. He comes from a place, North Carolina; guys who usually come from there have high basketball IQs. He's been exposed to that and been a part of winning. I expect that to continue here.
Shaw on if the Nuggets will continue to attack the paint in the same furious style:
Shaw: I would like it to. If you're scoring points in paint, that's probably one of the, most to the point, rim-tos, free throws and corner 3s are the highest efficiency shots in the game. As an offense you want to produce those kinds of opportunities for your team and defensively take those things away. All those things that they did well, I'm not trying to change them. I want them to continue to do them and I want them to build on them.
Tim, cohesiveness with new coach, describe your plan and direction:
Connelly: As I mentioned earlier, we had a million similar friends. Over the course of countless conversations, first thing everybody said was, great guy. Great guy. Great guy. I think by far that's the most important attribute to success. Good people do good things. Brian and I have enjoyed getting to know each other. We want to do this the right way.
The right way is having one vision and one goal. Debates are healthy. Constructive debates are great. When the door opens, any decision he makes or I make, we're going to support. I'm confident that's the kind of relationship we're going to enjoy. It was only confirmed over the interview process. Some of my best friends were guys he grew up with. I feel fantastic about forging that bond.
Shaw on what his process with be with the current assistants and who he needs on his staff:
Shaw: Yesterday, I was just explaining upstairs to some people in the office, that I had over 200 text messages, and probably 100 of them were from guys who expressed their want to be able to sit down and possibly be a part of the staff.
I don't think in terms of candidates out there that there's going to be a shortage. I want to take some time to look at the team and get to know some of the guys on the team. And then look at some of the candidates. I'll look at some of the guys who are on the staff here; along with some other guys I have in mind, and try to put together what I feel is the best fit, as well get some input from Josh as well as Tim. It's a team thing. We want to work together. The important thing is finding right guys to not only to support me, but who are going to best support the players on the team and get the most out of them.
Josh, any similarities between Brian and Patrick Roy (Avalanche's new coach)?
Kroenke: Yeah. I think Patrick's quote of the day during his press conference, '100 percent of the NHL coaches were rookies at some point in their career.' That translates over the NBA as well. For a first time guy, I saw similarities between the two teams, young rosters trying to grown and take that next step. Brian has three championships as a player, two as a coach. Patrick had four as a player, and he won a Memorial Cup with Quebec. That kind of championships pedigree is something you can't take lightly.
With both Patrick and Brian, there's a process to winning. You have to lay a foundation. You have to have that in the front of your mind on a daily basis and build toward it. Some teams have the luxury of going after a certain free agent, fill a need that way, make a huge leap overnight. I think with the way we're positioned right now, we have some very good players on both teams and as long as they're developed and their teams continue to be built in the proper way, the sky is the limit for both teams and both coaches.
Brian, how important is coach and team cohesion, do the Nuggets have talent to win champ:
Shaw: All those things are very important. I do think the Nuggets have the talent. Developing young players and their continual growth is important in the process. Team cohesion is very, very important. But more specifically, goes to cohesion. It's nice when you can hang out off the court and do things together. That's not absolutely necessary. The teams I played on in Boston, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird, respected each other and ability brought to the court. But they hardly every went out, their families didn't come over to each other's house for BBQs.
In Orlando, Shaq and Penny, kind of same thing. In LA, with Kobe and Shaq, same thing. One of those things that was similar, regardless of differences guys may have, they all respected what one another did on court. That's the important thing. It's up to the coach to manager all those situations. Getting him to buy into the important of having that cohesion and team unity.
Like I said, I don't foresee that being a problem here. This team beat us twice this year. We as much as we tried to let our team know that you're going to see a team that's committed to running, we couldn't prepare them enough for the pace this team plays with. Not only did they play with that tremendous pace, but they had a lot of energy and they were together. Guys were pulling for one another. The energy plays that Faried made, during the playoffs when you saw Andre Miller have big games and make big plays, everybody pulled for one another. That's something that's not necessarily unique, but when you have a true team and don't have superstars, guys rally around themselves even more. Those things are definitely important.
One of the candidates that could join you on the bench, I understand, used to fill two of the three of the seats at this table; Bernie Bickerstaff. Did you talk to Bernie about Denver? The city of Denver? And or the advantages or disadvantages of altitude?
I did talk to Bernie. We didn't specifically get into Denver. I was just kind of reaching out to him, at one point about what he was trying to do going forward and if he had any interest in possibly being somebody on the staff. Like I said, it was just surface conversation we didn't really get into depth about anything.
Welcome to Denver, first of all. This speaks volumes for Tim and Josh to bring someone in like you. I hear you say, in a lot of conversations, you're going to be stressing fundamentals. As you know, some of the teams do phantom screens and don't play out on three-point shooters. In your career, you filled those gaps for the teams you played for. Is that going to be an easy task for you and your new staff? Getting the players to understand that they need some basic fundamentals.
It won't be an easy task, but it will be a task that will be done. More-so than anything, that's the basis for everything. That's the foundation; fundamentals. That was one of the things that I'll take from being around coach Jackson. We spent 15-20 minutes at the beginning of every single practice, every single day, doing the most basic fundamentals that date back to what we did in elementary and middle school.
Sometimes it gets monotonous for the players, but when you get in a crunch - you need your fundamentals to get you through. And what happens is, and I can attest to this, you're not always going to be the youngest, fastest, most high-jumping, being able to hang in the air longer than anybody guy out there on the floor. Mother nature is going to catch up with you at some point. At the point that that does happen, guess what you have got to fall back on? Your fundamentals. To be able to create space, to be able to get the ball to where you need to get it, to be able to deliver a pass to a guy on time when he's open underneath the basket. Instead of not having the proper footwork and being able to deliver the ball until he gets pushed outside of the restricted area. Those things are vital. They are important. They will be stressed. Whether it's monotonous or not, it's important.
You look at a Michael Jordan, a Kobe Bryant, now a LeBron James, they are obviously blessed and gifted with the abilities they have, but to me that's not what necessarily separates them from everybody else. The one thing that I know about those guys is they are all fundamentally sound. Kobe practices the most basic footwork every single day. It's just a testament to what fundamentals are all about and how important they are. So, like I said they will be stressed.
Who did you idolize as a youngster growing up? The second part of that, the first ABA or NBA African American coach was here; John McLendon. I was wondering if you are at all familiar with him, he was the first African American to coach a predominately white school in the state. If you're aware of that background, but also who did you idolize, I assume your father, but who did you idolize as a youngster?
My father was an auto-mechanic and a very hard working man. He was definitely somebody I idolized and admired. In terms of basketball, he was not that much older than me, but I always loved and respected the way Magic Johnson played the game. He made the players around him better, he had fun while he played the game - he was always smiling, and just everything about him translated to winning.
I was a tall, skinny kid. I liked George Gervin, probably more-so because I felt like I was built the way that he was. Magic Johnson, I'd have to say [was my idol] - and he wasn't that much older than I was. In terms of African American coaches, I do remember, as a Warriors fan growing up in Oakland, Al Attles being the head coach and playing against the Washington Bullets, at the time, in the 1975 championship. I believe Don Cheney, I think Bernie Bickerstaff was even on that staff, but I remember two black head coaches playing against one another in the championship in '75. Tom Flores going back to football, as a minority coach with the Raiders. I've been cognoscente of that. Those are some of the memories I had and some of the guys I looked up to.
How about Boston Celtics coaches? You joined a long line of, you mentioned Larry Bird, K.C. Jones, go through the history of Celtics who have become coaches.
And Bill Russell was a coach and a player/coach and he's a guy that's from Oakland. You know, I'm very up on my city and the guys that come from my city. I'm very proud of it. Paul Silas is from Oakland, Gary Payton, Antonio Davis, Greg Foster, I mean I could go on-and-on for a city that's so small. You can obviously see I'm proud of that. That's something I have been fortunate with, as well.
All of the guys I started out playing with, I went to a team of veterans that taught me the right way to play the game. How to take care of myself, how to respect the game, and basically that if you're true to the game then the game will be true to you. A lot of hall of fame players: Larry [Bird], Kevin [McHale], Robert Parrish, playing with Danny Ainge. All of these guys are in positions now where they run teams. Presidents and GMs of different teams. I played with Danny Ferry in Italy, who is now in charge of the Hawks. So, just being around all of these guys and being able to pick their brains over the years and see how they do things and how they think the game has had a great impact on me. And then how I think about doing things as well.
One thing I do know. If you take a tennis shoe - a tennis shoe has a rubber sole, it has a leather upper for the most part, and that's the main part of the shoe. But as trivial as a shoe string is, you can go in the store and buy a pair of shoe strings for 50-cents or a dollar. The pair of shoes may cost $150, but the shoe strings are just as important as the actual shoe. That's how I always look at the role I played on teams.
Getting back to the question earlier about role players and me being able to relate to them. We used to tell Shaq and Kobe, during our championship days, you guys go out and get 70 points between the two of you, the rest of us on the team will get 30, and we'll score 100, and we'll keep the other team below 100 and we'll win. That's was kind of our formula that we joked and laughed about. Without the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers, the Rick Foxes, the guys that I played with like that. They were as important, and their contributions were just as important as what Shaq and Kobe did. That's something that I take pride in, that drives me, and I think I will be able to connect with players that play those kinds of roles and this team is kind of built that way.
What message do you have for Andre Iguodala? Have you spoke with him?
I spoke with him, he was in the day I was here doing my interview. I know him a little bit. He spends a lot of time in L.A. in the off-season so I've gotten to know him over the years. I know him and Kobe have the same agent. I'm excited about having an opportunity to coach him. The freshness and the youth of our GM, owner, myself, and the guys on the team that he plays with and what they were able to accomplish this year. It's exciting, I'm looking forward to what I think we can do and he obviously would be a big part of that. I haven't really spoken to him since, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity of working with him.