ESPN analyst Hubie Brown, 80, is a two-time NBA coach of the year, 26 years apart: 1978 with the Hawks, 2004 with the Grizzlies. Brown is calling the Thunder-Spurs series for ESPN Radio. Brown chatted with The Oklahoman before Game 2 Wednesday:
Aside from this series, what do you think of the Thunder?
Brown: “Come on, it’s one of the best organizations that we have in the league, starting at the top and running right down with your coaching staff and with the players. You’re benefited by outstanding drafts and trades made by management, then you have a young core of outstanding players, and when you have two of the 10 best players on your team, and they are leaders not by talking, but by example, and they practice every bit as hard as they play a game. This sets a tone for the rest of the people in the locker room, which helps the coaching staff, etc. The building, if not the best, one of the best. The people, the enthusiasm, the way the team plays, it’s going to be there for a long period of time.”
You seem really high on the organization.
Brown: “They’ve been bold in their moves, and the moves have paid off for them, without destroying the solid structure that they have for success. And when you’re second in the league in wins, you’re doing something right here, because you have a lot of young people. You look at their bench, and their players, 13, 14 and 15, there’s a ton of potential here. So management, working with the coaching staff, working with their scouts, you give them an excellent rating. How they play, night in and night out, they play hard, they play right to their potential. Unfortunately for them right now, they’re at a major minus without Ibaka.”
How big of a blow was the Serge Ibaka injury?
Brown: “Unfortunately, this is two years in a row that you drew snake eyes, losing (Russell) Westbrook last year and now losing Ibaka. It comes down to committee, just like (Scott) Brooks says. What you need is other people to step up. To me, it isn’t something that is out of the question that you can’t accomplish it.”