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Oklahoman Published: December 14, 2008
Memory lane
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Mo Cheeks, who was fired Saturday, was his mentor. Brooks grew up a 76ers fan. Cheeks and Julius Erving were his favorite players. His rookie season, Brooks had to carry Cheeks’ jersey and shoes all year long, every day to practice.

"After the last game I never gave his jersey back to him,” Brooks said. "What’s funny is five years later I had Maurice sign the jersey. Back then, if you kept your jersey after the season the team charged you $400. Now they probably give hundreds of them away.”

As for Saturday’s firing, Brooks said: "No one wants to see that happen. He was my buddy. He’s a guy I looked up to. But we all understand it’s a tough business. That’s what keeps us going. That’s why we love what we do.”

Memory lane II
The one season Brooks played in the CBA with the Albany Patroons, one of his teammates was Rick Carlisle. Now the Dallas Mavericks head coach, Carlisle was from Boston. During a day off, he informed Brooks they could take a train to Bean Town and visit Celtics legend Larry Bird at his home.

"I’m sticking to my story that I wanted to stay back to work out and try to get better,” Brooks said. "Looking back, what was I thinking? What’s 200 extra shots that day compared to having a chance to hang out with Larry Bird in his prime?

"I think about that quite a bit. I had a chance to do that as a 22-year-old rookie in the CBA. I was focused on making it in the NBA. I thought I needed to get workouts in. I didn’t believe in days off as a player.”

Petro starts
Brooks chose Johan Petro at center with Chris Wilcox sidelined 10 days to two weeks with a dislocated finger.

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