NBA

Brian Shaw and Lobsters with Red Auerbach

Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw recalls a memorable dinner with Red Auerbach.

Jessica Camerato profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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There is breaking bread, and then there is breaking lobster shells.

In the summer of 1988, Brian Shaw was in Baltimore, Maryland for an exhibition game as part of U.S. Olympic squad tryouts. He had been drafted that year by the Boston Celtics, and Red Auerbach, who lived in Washington, D.C., wanted to take him to dinner.

A lobster dinner.

A common meal for those in the area, but it was new to the California native. Sitting at table of fully shelled lobsters and the Auerbach family, Shaw went with the fake-it-til-you-make it approach. It didn’t go so well.

“I had never eaten it before, didn’t know how to eat it, and I was trying to play it off like I did,” Shaw recalled. “I reached to try to crack one of the claws and I actually cut my hand. It was bleeding all over the lobster.”

Auerbach noticed the seafood debacle. He offered the rookie his assistance and gave him a lesson in claw cracking.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘You’ve never had lobster before, have you?’ I couldn’t play it off anymore,” said Shaw. “I said, ‘No, I haven’t.’ He showed me how to use the cracker and crack the shell. That’s probably the funniest story I have about him, other than the second hand cigar smoke that I got blown in my face.”

Nearly 20 years after he began his NBA career with the Celtics, Shaw was back in Boston on Wednesday as head coach of the Denver Nuggets. The team happened to be in town the day of the New England Patriots Super Bowl parade, which Shaw watched from his view at the Four Seasons Hotel. The celebration brought back memories of Shaw’s playing days. He won three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-02.

“It’s a time when you get to feel the appreciation of the fans that give you the energy to go out and do your job night in and night out,” Shaw said.

Even though he finished his playing career in L.A., Shaw still appreciates the opportunity he had to play with elite teammates during two-plus seasons on the Celtics. He shared the court with Hall of Famers and can’t replace those experiences.

“I came in and got to be teammates with some of the greatest players to ever play the game — Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, D.J. (Dennis Johnson),” Shaw said. “As a young player coming into that, being around Red Auerbach and some of the other Celtics legends that were always around and available, there’s no value to what you can place on that and what you are able to take away from that.”

Nor can he ever forget learning how to eat lobsters from one of basketball’s greats.

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Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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