October 5, 1991
This year Shaw vowed there would be no waves, no noise, no controversies. True to that end, he spurned the media over the summer at a time when, yup, he was in the news again, this time as possible trade bait.
Yesterday Shaw made an appearance at the Celtics' Media Day, sporting a new haircut and an earring. And he spoke.
For the first time since he cleaned out his locker last May and headed for California, Shaw talked about his summer, his ankle and his thoughts about where he would play this season.
Why did he make himself so scarce over the summer?
"It was very important to me to have a peaceful, relaxing summer," he said. "I haven't had one in a while."
Who could argue with that? Two years ago, he legally bolted the NBA for Il Messaggero. Last year he tried to do the same after re-signing with Boston and ended up fighting his employer in the federal courts. And losing.
This summer Shaw was a hot commodity as the draft approached in late June. An ankle injury in March had drastically limited his mobility and made him ineffective in the playoffs. Other teams looking for point guards zeroed in on Shaw, with offers ranging from tempting to ridiculous.
Washington offered the eighth pick for him. The Celtics said no. The Clippers offered the ninth. Not enough, the Celtics said. He was linked to a deal with Sacramento for the No. 3 pick, and just about every other team.
"I think it was as much a reflection of other teams' temperature taking," said Celtics CEO Dave Gavitt. "It wasn't what we felt in the organization. You know, Joe from Revere wants to trade Brian Shaw."
While all this was going on, Celtics management restated its interest in keeping Shaw and his teammates went to bat for him big time. Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale all urged that Shaw not be dealt.
"That really makes me feel good," Shaw said. "It shows that the guys on the team and management have confidence in me. When a team doesn't meet its goals, you look to see what changes need to be made."
The Celtics maintain Shaw was never available, but they didn't turn away callers, either. At one point, general manager Jan Volk spoke to Shaw to assure the point guard that there was nothing to the trade rumors.
Still, Shaw said he was never quite certain he wouldn't be dealt.
"I'm back here now and I've come to accept that trade talk is part of it. I can deal with it a lot better," he said. "I didn't have a feeling one way or another whether I would be playing here. I was told they weren't shopping me, that others were inquiring about me. I knew I'd be looking down at my uniform and see No. 20. I just didn't know what I'd see on top of that."
Gavitt said he never felt compelled to reassure Shaw of his status on the team. "I think Brian and I have a pretty good relationship and he understood how we view him and the role he has on this team."
As of now, Shaw figures to return to his starting point guard position. His right ankle has healed (he reinjured it in the Los Angeles Summer League), although there still is swelling. He sat out a week after spraining it and now realizes that wasn't long enough.
"Definitely not enough," he said. "All the doctors who looked at the ankle this summer told me I was crazy to come back so quick. I figured if I just threw some tape on it, that would be enough. It wasn't. I learned that.
"It gets to the point where you see Larry, Robert and Kevin play with all those injuries and you don't want to be a wimp and not play with pain. That was my thinking. The problem was, the ankle was hurt a lot more severely than I thought it was."
Over the summer, Shaw also worked with the Warriors' strength and conditioning coach. He wanted to increase his flexibility and his lower body strength. He thinks he has.
And the Celtics clearly are expecting big things from Shaw.
"I think Brian is going to have a big year," Gavitt said. "People don't understand what it's like to reenter the NBA after a year in Europe. Over there, you play 35 games. You don't practice hard. There just aren't the pressures that there are in the NBA.
"It's a difficult reentry and almost like being a rookie again. I expect Brian to be really in a position to prosper."