Paul George used to be as anonymous as some guy named John Ringo. Now? He's an NBA all-star, having averaged 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists a game during the postseason, in which he led the Indiana Pacers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
On Tuesday, George worked out with his summertime basketball trainer, former Los Angeles Lakers reserve Mike Penberthy.
"Paul does credit Brian Shaw with a lot of his development," Penberthy said of the Pacers assistant coach. "He said Brian deserves a head coaching job. He's had his run as an assistant and it's time for him to get his chance."
Shaw might get his chance with the Nuggets.
He interviewed with the Nuggets on Tuesday, an NBA source confirmed, and is in competition with former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who is set to interview Wednesday.
So just who is Brian Shaw? Interviews with those who know the 47-year-old former guard reveal a likable, versatile, passionate basketball mind, yearning to break out as a young coach.
"I think there is a trend in the NBA to give the next generation of coaches a chance, and with the youth in Denver, to me it would make sense," said Penberthy, who was teammates with Shaw on the 2000-01 championship Lakers and now works out numerous NBA players, including Andre Iguodala. "There are different styles of head coaches. There are those who are old school and enforcing and then there's the newer style of coach that's more about personality. And I think Brian works across the board.
"He has substance from what he knows and he has personality to where the players can be inspired by him and follow him. I think he'd be a great fit with Denver; they do have some young talent."
Once presumed as Phil Jackson's heir apparent with the Lakers, the mystery is why Shaw has yet to get a head coaching position. He's long been a hot candidate, having gotten interviews for more than 10 head coaching positions. Some in the league think his reliance on the triangle offense, which Jackson thrived with, has hurt Shaw because so few other teams use it. But Shaw's recent success as a Pacers assistant might help alleviate that concern.
"He's a natural leader," said Frank Hamblen, a longtime Jackson assistant who both coached Shaw and coached alongside him. "Even though he came off the bench for us with the Lakers, and it's hard for those guys to lead, he showed excellent leadership. Very few people are capable of doing that.
"I kind of sent him on this coaching path. As a player, I came to him one day, because I knew how he studied the game, and asked him if he'd be interested in coaching when his career was over. He said yes. And I told him, 'Whenever it's my team (to scout), I'm going to give you the players' version and extensive coaches' version of the scouting report.' He absorbed it and he would take it to the players and give them additional insight on who we were playing. And you could tell right then he was going to be a heck of a coach some day. He's the only player I ever (did that for)."
Shaw, who is also believed to be in the picture for the Los Angeles Clippers' head coaching job, has a fascinating résumé. He played in the league from 1988-2003 as teammates with players from Larry Bird and Allen Iverson to Shaquille O'Neal and Latrell Sprewell, the season Sprewell choked coach P.J. Carlesimo. Shaw dated Madonna in the 1990s. He also persisted through nearly unspeakable grief.
Shaw's parents and sister died in a car accident in 1993. Shaw proceeded to help raise his sister's daughter, who was in the crash and was a baby at the time.
The crash was June 26, 1993, 20 years ago next week.
"I felt like I was in a bad dream," Shaw told Arash Markazi of ESPN.com in a profile story. "Like I was in a nightmare, and I was going to wake up and everything was going to be fine again."
Shaw's perseverance has complemented his personality, that of a tough but caring coach. His reputation is that of a player's coach, but one who understands the fine line between buddy and boss.
"He's going to know what buttons to push with every guy, because you can't coach, say, Chris Paul the same way you coach Blake Griffin," Lakers legend Magic Johnson said. "What I mean by that is, you're going to coach them the same but you're going to coach to their personality and know who they are and know what buttons you can push. It's a different button that you have to push with each of the 12 guys, and Brian Shaw knows that."
He soon may have the chance to push the buttons with the Nuggets.