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News » Brooks adjusting to new role as Thunder coach

Brooks adjusting to new role as Thunder coach

Brooks adjusting to new role as Thunder coach
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - With his name being called over a loudspeaker, Scott Brooks headed toward the family he'd be sharing an early Thanksgiving dinner with and made a lap shaking their hands.

Just 14 games into the city's time with an NBA team of it's own, there's a new coach to meet and greet for the Oklahoma City Thunder. And he's still fitting into his new role, too.

Brooks has been an assistant coach for the past five-plus seasons after playing in the NBA for 11 years, and he's getting his first chance at the helm - except for six games when he filled in for suspended head coaches.

There's plenty of work for him to do to resurrect a team that's started the season an NBA-worst 1-13, and Brooks is just going with the flow.

"I've been around the game my whole life, and I'm just letting things come out naturally," Brooks said Monday. "I'm sure I'm going to make mistakes, but I'm going to make them through working hard and believing in our guys."

Brooks played for seven teams, including the Houston Rockets' 1994 NBA champions. His travels allowed him to learn from a variety of coaches from Rudy Tomjanovich to Jeff Van Gundy to Mike Fratello.

"I've been influenced by just about everybody I've played for - good, bad, indifferent. I was lucky enough to play for a lot of coaches," Brooks said. "That was the hard part of being traded and cut and going from city to city, but it gave me a good slice of the coaching spectrum."

After practice Monday, Brooks headed to Tinker Air Force Base with the rest of his team Monday for his first public appearance since being named the interim replacement for fired coach P.J. Carlesimo. He and his players sat down with families who have a loved one serving overseas, while general manager Sam Presti and other staff members dished out turkey, macaroni and cheese, green beans and other Thanksgiving goodies.

Brooks will coach his first game at the Ford Center on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns after the Thunder lost his coaching debut at New Orleans on Saturday night - the same day the team announced that Carlesimo had been fired.

That created a bittersweet scenario for Brooks: While he was getting his first chance to be an NBA head coach, it was at the expense of the man who gave him a chance as an assistant.

"I have a lot of respect for coach Carlesimo. He gave me the job to work with him and it's a very unique situation the last few days," Brooks said. "I had a chance to speak with him a couple of times, once in person, and he's a class man. He understands the business better than I do. These things happen."

Brooks, who Presti had considered for the job when Carlesimo was hired prior to last season, preferred not to compare and contrast his coaching approach to his former boss but said he's hoping his viewpoint as a former point guard will serve him well.

"I will coach to my personality," Brooks said. "You have to be yourself out there. You have to do things that you believe in with all your heart because if you don't, the players know."

Presti delivered the news to Carlesimo after a 105-80 loss to the Hornets on Friday night, the team's 10th straight defeat.

"It was a surprise for me, but at the same time I knew it was time for a change and I knew something was going to happen," said veteran forward Chris Wilcox. "If it wasn't now, it was going to be later."

Wilcox said players have had to get used to the new position of authority for Brooks, who had always been their friend.

"We were always cracking jokes and things like that. Now it's like he's got a different role and he's got to approach the games and every situation totally different," Wilcox said.

"We just give him the utmost respect. We know it's his first time, so we're just trying to help him along."

Brooks set his first priority as fostering a commitment to playing hard, something that had come into question in Carlesimo's final days. Beyond that, he has some core beliefs that he also wants to see play out on the court.

"I believe you win ballgames on the defensive end. You have to be a tough, defensive-minded team that creates its offense off of its defense," Brooks said. "And on the offensive end, I like to share the ball. Sure, the best scorers are going to usually get the most points, but you need all five players to participate in order to be effective."

The start of his tenure, which Presti has said will last through the rest of the season, brings a bit of a clean slate for the team - even if it can't start over completely.

"We've still got a 1-13 record," Wilcox said. "That's something that we can't clean off."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 25, 2008


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