When the Thunder won the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night, coach Scott Brooks immediately knew he had to secure one extra ticket to the NBA Finals.
When Game 1 arrives against either Miami or Boston, that ticket will be waiting for the most strict, most powerful, most influential person in Brooks' life – his 79-year-old mother, Lee.
“That's going to be a great time in my family's life,” Scott said. “It's just nice to have her around.”
Scott is the youngest of seven children and was raised solely by Lee. He never knew his father, who left when Scott was 2 years old and died without reuniting with his youngest son.
Lee still runs the family business, a car wash in Manteca, Calif., aptly named “Dribbles.”
It's been 18 years since Lee ventured farther than Sacramento (60 miles north) to see one of her son's games in person.
Her last significant road trip was to the 1994 NBA Finals when Scott was a reserve point guard with the champion Houston Rockets.
Scott said his mother told him, “I won't come to see you play until you make it to the Finals.”
Lee's edict was in place for the 10 seasons Scott was an NBA player, and was extended when he became the Thunder's coach on Nov. 22, 2008.
“Finals or bust,” Scott, 46, explained Friday. “She's always been that way. She's tough as nails. If I had her toughness, I would have been a starter in the NBA.”
Lee will be in attendance Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Though she hates to fly, Lee will be catching a flight to Oklahoma City.
“I thought we were going to have to send a limo to pick her up,” Scott said. “She's flying out.”