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News » NBA FINALS


NBA FINALS


NBA FINALS
The Thunder has eight NBA championship rings. Unfortunately, none belong to its players.

General manager Sam Presti won three rings with the San Antonio Spurs. He was alongside player development assistant Brian Keefe and director of player personnel Rob Hennigan, who won two each with the Spurs.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks won one NBA title and was on his way to winning two straight before the business side of the sport stole his chance for a second ring.

The year was 1995. It was the last time - and first time - the Orlando Magic advanced to the NBA Finals.

Brooks was a backup point guard for the Houston Rockets, the defending NBA champs led by center Hakeem Olajuwon.

The night before the trade deadline, the Rockets traded to get Clyde Drexler from Portland in exchange for Otis Thorpe, reuniting Olajuwon with his hometown college teammate.

Dallas then acquired Brooks in exchange for Morlon Wiley and a 1995 second-round pick (Eric Meek).

Brooks was on the Mavericks roster when the Rockets swept Orlando 4-0 for their second straight title.

"When I was traded, I was not happy about it," admitted Brooks, who was 29 at the time. "I loved Houston. I loved the team. I loved the coaches. I also knew that was part of the business."

Though he had played more than half the 1994-95 season with Houston, Brooks received no championship ring and was voted no playoff bonus.

"At that time, it was the right thing to do," Brooks said.

Brooks said he was pulling hard for his former teammates to make it two straight.

"When you're with a team that goes that far, that fights hard and has that many ups and downs, you're lifelong friends," Brooks said. "I have so much respect for what those guys did that year. If you're not in it (the Finals), you cheer for your buddies."

Every year around this time is when Brooks thinks back to his magical time with the Rockets.

"Obviously, it's a special moment," Brooks said.

Brooks, the wee point guard out of Cal-Irvine, has one more NBA championship ring than Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton and several other past greats.

"I'm not one to say winning a championship validates somebody's career," Brooks said. "A lot of players never get an opportunity to win a championship."

Asked how nerve-wracking it is to play in the NBA Finals, Brooks chuckled and said, "If you had Hakeem Olajuwon on your team, there wasn't a lot of pressure at all."

Brooks' admiration for Olajuwon still runs deep.

"I learned a lot being around Olajuwon, how he handled himself, how he prepared himself off the court," Brooks said. "He was an incredible star, as humble and as hungry as a star can be."

After becoming an NBA coach himself, Brooks also has great respect for Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"I appreciated him back then because he was a very fair coach and was very honest with his players," Brooks said. "He was passionate and he cared about all of us. To me, he should go down as one of the best coaches of all-time."

Brooks said he has never worn his championship ring, but people are still curious.

"I get asked about it quite a bit, especially in this area and in Texas," Brooks said. "We were the first Texas team to win an NBA title. Everybody loved the Rockets back then, and rightfully so. They played hard and they competed and they had a superstar."

Will there ever come a time Brooks will show his championship ring to his players, or is that too corny?

"I don't know if that's too corny," Brooks said. "Eventually, I will break it out, especially if I need a job. I'll wear it to my interview. That might be the perfect way to win somebody over - wear my ring.

"Wear it on my right hand when I shake the (owner's) hand."

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 6, 2009

 

 
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