When he was growing up northern California, not too far from Sacramento, Scotty Brooks was like a lot of kids in neighborhoods around the country, he played basketball on driveways and in playgrounds and he had big dreams.
“When you’re a kid you dream about playing in the NBA and then winning the championship,” he said. And Brooks not only dreamed the dream he lived it, winning a ring when he played for the Houston Rockets in the 90s.
“Now I have a chance to do it as a coach, it’s a great opportunity for our organization and our players to really see how far we’ve come.”
They’ve come a long way in a short time.
You remember that group of guys who came to Oklahoma City from Seattle and we were all wondering who some of them were. Robert Swift? Mo Sene?? Really???
“Not so long ago we were talking about being the worst team in NBA history and you definitely don’t dream about being the coach of the worst team in NBA history,” Brooks said with a laugh.
That first year though the Thunder foundation was being set. Kevin Durant was rapidly developing into one of the league’s best players, Russell Westbrook was showing flashes of what he would turn into and Nick Collison just kept plowing along.
Since then some personnel changes, new guys added to the mix, others sent away. One thing though has stayed constant.
“I think our players have done a great job of buying and letting our coaches coach and coming to work with an attitude that they’re going to have to get better to get to the level that we need to get to.”
That level has been reached now. The Thunder are standing on the mountain top of the NBA waiting to be joined by a team from the Eastern Conference for one last series that will define a special season.
All the hard work, all the long nights of wondering if it was all worth it and the nights and days and sometimes weeks spent away from family trying to get better, all of those thoughts kind of welled up inside Brooks the other night just before the trophy presentation at center court.
Some of us saw the coach reach his hand to his eyes to try to hold back some tears, we all saw it in the picture that appeared in The Oklahoman the next day.
I asked Scotty who had come to mind when he tried to stop the tears, “well there’s a lot of people who help you along the way but my mother has always been a big part of my life and it’s gonna be nice because the last time she came out to see me play was at The Finals in Houston in ’94 and so now she had told me she’s not gonna come out till I get into The Finals as a coach so she’s coming out for Game 1, it’s gonna be great.”
Most all of Brooks’ family will be in town for The Finals and so will a lot of his boyhood buddies and countless others, former teammates, new acquaintances will watch on television to see if the California kid with all the big dreams will help make another one come true.