Scott Brooks’ job security has been a hot topic of debate over the last month or so.
Well, not anymore.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said last week that Brooks will be back and better than ever next season. This might be news to you, but it isn’t news to Brooks.
“It’s never been in the discussion,” Brooks said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to the possibility of not returning next season. “Things that Sam and I talk about are ways to get our team better, to get our guys better – even to get myself better. That’s what we do as an organization. We want to develop our guys. We know we came up short. But there’s only one team standing. It’s a very tough, difficult task at hand, but we are going to continue to work and get better and come back hopefully better next season.”
On the one hand, the Thunder had a great season. They won 59 games, earned the No. 2 seed in the West and advanced to the conference finals for the second time in three years. On the other hand, they lost to San Antonio in six games – this after Serge Ibaka missed the first two games of the series with a calf strain.
It was the second straight season that Oklahoma City’s postseason hopes were derailed by injury.
“We had a good year,” Brooks said. “I have a lot for respect for that championship. I was fortunate enough to be on a championship team in ’94 with the Houston Rockets. It’s so hard to get there. I admire a lot of coaches I played for that have not won a championship, and I admire a lot of coaches that I played against as a player that never won a championship. It’s hard to get. There’s a long list of great ones that never won it – and teams. I played with a lot of teammates that have never won a championship. I know it’s very difficult. I know what we want to accomplish in Oklahoma City is a championship, but we understand its going to take a lot of good things to happen for our team to get there.”
Brooks also discussed his former player, Derek Fisher, who has agreed to become the next head coach of the New York Knicks. How tough will it be for Fisher to go from bench player to head coach?
“Well, I think he’s going to do very well, but there’s definitely going to be an adjustment,” Brooks said. “He’s going to understand quickly that he’s no longer a player. He gets to worry about the next game after the game. As a coach, you never get away from it. It’s always with you. After every loss, you’re thinking about ways that you could have done better to help the team win. After every win, you think about ways to get your team better the next game.”
“But his work ethic is as high level as I’ve ever seen any player,” Brooks continued. “He’s put himself in this position the last three or four years to prepare to become a head coach. I think he’s going to do well. Fisher’s going to be a successful coach.”
Brooks is also in a unique position to address the Jordan-versus-LeBron question. Brooks played against Jordan and has coached against LeBron. Who’s better?
“Well, obviously I’m biased with Jordan because I just love how he represented the league with his effort on both ends of the court,” Brooks said. “I love two-way players. I think those are the superstars in the league. Guys that can just do it offensively, they’re stars. But the superstars are the ones that can do it on both ends – and Michael Jordan was one of the best ever to do it on both ends. And no question, LeBron is definitely in that category.”
“Obviously, I think the championships – the six that Jordan has, the two that LeBron has at the moment – weighs in. Both incredible athletes. You can never discount the fact that LeBron is so powerful, so strong, that it is almost impossible to stop him when he is coming full speed at you.”
Oh, and if you’re curious, Brooks is watching the Finals – even though it features the team that cost him a championship in 2012 (Miami) and the team that cost him a championship in 2014 (San Antonio).
“It’s hard to watch,” Brooks said. “But you have to.”