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Klee: Brian Shaw's life story is one of success - and heartache

By: Paul Klee
June 29, 2013 Updated: June 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm

DENVER - Like a 40-pound weight strapped over his shoulders, the question was heavy enough to finally make Brian Shaw appear uncomfortable.


It takes a gritty subject to turn Shaw's palms sweaty. Wait until you see him on the sideline in the final seconds of a Ziplock-tight Nuggets game, composed better than smooth jazz.

But this question almost - almost - shook a nerve: After more fruitless job interviews than a website designer in the '60s, why did it take this long to become a head coach?

"At times it got frustrating," Shaw allowed.

Maybe a dozen teams passed over Shaw before he was hired as coach of the Nuggets.

But that's just job stuff, hardly the toughest hardship Shaw has endured in his life.

June 25, 2013, is the date he became an NBA head coach for the first time.

June 26, 1993, is the date he lost his parents and sister in a car accident.

His father, Charles Shaw, was 52.

"My father was an auto mechanic and a very hard-working man," Brian said of the individual he idolized more than any other.

His mother, Barbara, was 51. His sister, Monica, was 24.

Brian, a grieving son and brother, was 27.

"Basketball pales in comparison to those things," he said.

The anguish didn't end there, either. One month later Shaw lost a close friend and teammate, Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics. Lewis died of cardiac arrest.

"Those things helped me prepare for what I have to deal with in this game," Shaw said.

During his introduction in Denver, the 47-year-old coach of the Nuggets delivered a basketball message that should resonate with the NBA's third-youngest roster.

"They don't necessarily want to know how much you know. They want to know how much you care."

Shaw spoke about his two seasons as an assistant with the Pacers, whose roster shares bizarre similarities to the one at Pepsi Center.

"If they wanted to cut corners, I would just remind them (about) the guy across the coast who plays your position and is one of the best in the history game, (and) he doesn't cut corners," Shaw said, referring to former teammate Kobe Bryant.

His message as a grieving son and brother is far more powerful.

"My path has never been the easy path," he said.

Fresh start?

Not to jinx it, but the Rockies pitching rotation is evolving in the right direction.

Jhoulys Chacin held the Giants scoreless over eight innings in a 4-1 win Friday. He's won four straight starts. Tyler Chatwood carries a 2.13 ERA and has been consistently solid. Jorge De La Rosa entered Saturday's start 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA in day games.

It's not the '98 Braves, but the rotation doesn't need to be in the vulnerable NL West.

Now the conversation centers on Roy Oswalt (0-2, 7.36 ERA) and Sky Sox call-up Drew Pomeranz.

Keep an eye on their next two starts - Pomeranz's season debut on Sunday; Oswalt on Tuesday. With no sign of a major trade in the works, the Rockies' hopes of a playoff run depend on Troy Tulowitzki's health and whether Oswalt and Pomeranz add quality depth to the rotation.

Mystery, solved

Compare the mystery at the top of the NBA draft to the mystery in the NHL draft.

In the NHL, there is none.

The NBA draft had six players with a shot to go No. 1 overall. In the end, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett was the choice of the Cavaliers.

The Avs own the No. 1 pick in Sunday's NHL draft. I don't remember a recent occasion when the team with the top pick was so brazenly straightforward about its intentions - when there was real debate about the top player in the draft.

"We're certainly leaning toward the forward," said Rick Pracey, the chief scout for the Avs.

The forward, 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon, projects as "the best player available," Pracey said, and whom the Avs are targeting.

"Being at No. 1, I anticipate (trade) offers," Pracey said.

So there's a touch of mystery, at least.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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