DENVER (CBS4) – As of Monday the Denver Nuggets have lost 10 of their last 11, and judging from head coach Brian Shaw’s recent negative comments, one might think he’s fed up and exasperated and his relationship with his players is beyond repair. But that’s not Shaw.
The challenges as a rookie head coach are nothing compared to the tragedy Shaw endured 20 years ago the night he lost his parents and his only sister in a car accident. It’s a story that was featured on HBO’s “Real Sports.”
“It was a Friday night and my father had just got home from work. And he actually worked late and they got in the car, and the last thing they said, he rolled down the window, he said, ‘We’ll call you to let you know we got in okay,’ “ Shaw said. “At about 8:30 p.m. I got a call and it was the coroner in Nevada telling me that my mother and my father and my sister had all expired from a car accident.”
Compared to that, his job as the head coach of the Nuggets is easy. Before going on “Real Sports,” Shaw said his players hadn’t heard his story.
“Before it came out I told them when it was going to air. I told them to take a look at it if they wanted to learn a little about me,” Shaw said. “After they watched it a few of them came and said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you had gone through that.’ A couple of them shared some similar situations that they had gone through. So there’s a common bond when it comes to that.
“One of the things that I learned a long time ago, actually I hard Rick Majerus say when he was a coach at the University of Utah. He said, ‘Players don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ ”
But do his players care about winning?
“The thing that’s been the most difficult for me this season has been me having to almost on a daily basis beg certain guys to play hard,” Shaw said. “But in terms of just effort, going out there every day and giving an effort and earning your paycheck, that’s something that we shouldn’t have to coach.”
Shaw said he thinks part of the problem is generational.
“I joke around; people ask me how many kids I have. I have three kids, but I say I have 18,” he said. “Because when I drop the other three off at school and I come here, I’ve got to deal with the other 15.”
Shaw has the ability to cut playing time for discipline. But what happens when he cuts playing time and it doesn’t work?
“This situation has been difficult because of all the injuries. The ‘hammer’ of playing time is not as heavy as it would be.”
Shaw has played for teams that have won multiple championships in the past and fans expect banners in the rafters, but without championships, it seems free agents always avoid Denver.
“Can (we) win a championship? Yes, I think we can win a championship. Obviously you have to have a lot of luck. These young guys don’t engage themselves in the game, the players who came before and all the study that has to happen in order for you to really get it,” Shaw said. “That’s part of what my job is – to try to get them to understand what it takes.
“Then you get a little taste of it and you get hungrier and you want more and more of it, and that’s how the process begins.”
As bad as it may look, Shaw isn’t going anywhere. Both owner Josh Kroenke and General Manager Tim Connelly believe Shaw is going to be a great head coach.