In Orlando, he was half of the celebrated “Shaw-Shaq Redemption” alley-oop that helped the Magic get to the NBA Finals in 1995.
In Los Angeles, he was Shaquille O’Neal’s teammate, friend and confidant during a run of three straight titles with the Lakers. In a 2007 interview, O’Neal called him the teammate he respected most in his NBA career.
So it comes as no surprise that Brian Shaw, now an assistant coach with the Lakers who has also interviewed for the Chicago Bulls’ vacant head coaching position, has also met with the Suns to chat about becoming their new coach.
NBA sources confirmed to the Tribune that Suns general manager Steve Kerr met with Shaw on May 18, while the Lakers had a break between the Western Conference semifinals and finals.
A day later, Shaw met with Chicago GM John Paxson and is believed to be on the short list in both cities.
Kerr, in Orlando this week for the NBA Pre-Draft Camp, also had the expected formal interview with Suns assistant general manager Vinny Del Negro on Friday. Kerr said he might have one or two more initial interviews to conduct (San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer is a strong possibility) and could also begin a second round of talks since Orlando is packed with NBA coaches and front-office personnel.
Shaw is another guard with vast NBA experience (Jeff Hornacek, Mark Jackson, Terry Porter and Del Negro) to show up on Kerr’s radar.
But he possesses two things the other candidates do not — championship rings and a close personal relationship with O’Neal.
Tyrone Corbin and Elston Turner are also known to have interviewed for the Suns job.
While there was a window for the Suns to speak with Shaw, Budenholzer and the Spurs won Game 7 of their series with the Hornets on May 19 in New Orleans and flew straight to Los Angeles — after enduring an 11-hour wait in the team charter due to mechanical problems — where Game 1 against the Lakers was played Wednesday.
The Spurs can tie the series 2-2 with a win tonight, but there are indications Kerr would be willing to wait another week or so for the chance to speak to Budenholzer.
Shaw, 42, had interviews with both Sacramento and Indiana last year for their head coaching vacancies and is seen as a likely successor to Phil Jackson in Los Angeles.
But with his relationship with Kobe Bryant patched up and the Lakers back in championship contention following the acquisition of Pau Gasol, Jackson might be looking at a longer tenure, giving Shaw more reason to pursue a head coaching job elsewhere.