Scott Brooks could have been coaching against the Thunder tonight in the Ford Center.
Brooks was the runner-up for the Sacramento Kings’ vacancy two years ago. It would have been the dream job for a local kid who grew up 50 miles south of Sacramento.
Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof interviewed Brooks in June 2007 at the Palms, the Maloofs’ hotel in Las Vegas. They gushed about Brooks but ended up choosing Reggie Theus, who was fired this season.
"Reggie had more sizzle,” said Sacramento Bee beat writer Sam Amick. "Reggie was popular from his playing days. That went a long way with fans even to the end. It may have helped him hold on to the job longer than he may have otherwise.
"From his one year as an assistant, everyone in the organization really liked Scotty. Fans loved his story. They could relate to a self-made player and coach. In hindsight, sure, plenty of folks think he would have been a good selection.”
Theus was the safe pick. He played in Sacramento for three seasons. He was a three-time All-Star. His bubbly personality connected well with fans. Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s endorsement played a role.
Theus had a better resume. He led New Mexico State to a 16-14 record after inheriting a 6-24 team. It was the fifth best turnaround in men’s Division I history. The following year the Aggies went 25-8 and made the NCAA Tournament.
"It would have been a great thrill for me to coach the Kings, but I’m not bitter at all,” Brooks said.