Oklahoma City Thunder: Is the Thunder still listening to Scott Brooks?

COMMENTARY — Scotty Brooks and his players say they are not listening to the noise. OK. But are his players still listening to Brooks?
by Berry Tramel Published: April 25, 2014

It’s madness, when you think about it. Brooks has nurtured Westbrook into one of the NBA’s best players, warts and all, and defended his point guard from all comers. The definition of irony is someone from the Westbrook camp calling for Scotty Brooks’ job.

A more strong-willed coach might rein in Westbrook’s shoddy shot selection. He also could run Westbrook out of Oklahoma City, and let me promise you, finding coaches are a lot easier than finding Russell Westbrooks.

On the streets of Memphis early Friday morning, Ray Westbrook stood by his tweet. “That’s how I feel,” he said. “If you don’t like it, don’t follow me (on Twitter).”

Shows you how difficult Brooks’ job is. Not only do you juggle Russell Westbrook personalities, you might have to navigate Ray Westbrook nonsense.

“I did hear about it,” Brooks said. “It didn’t bother me. I’ve got a lot of things to worry about, and that’s not one of ’em. That has nothing to do with me or what I think day to day. I’m focused on our guys. Just focused on Game 4.”

Durant is the most important man in the organization, behind only Sam Presti, and if you want to flip those rankings, I won’t argue. Durant said criticism of Brooks doesn’t matter, whether it’s coming from ESPN’s Bill Simmons or Thunder fans or his point guard’s brother.

“We don’t worry about that stuff,” Durant said. “Everything we can control is internally. That’s all we focus on. Outside noise from the media, from fans, from family and friends, we just know it’s going to come, it’s a part of it, but we just try to dodge that, not worry about that, just focus on the group. A lot of different people have opinions, including you guys. We just let it go in one ear and out the other.”

Fair enough. But if these Boomers like their coach, they won’t have that in-and-out philosophy when he talks. Brooks knows basketball. He knows what the Thunder has to do. Just because he doesn’t toss his players under the bus publicly doesn’t mean he hasn’t popped them behind closed doors.

Brooks is telling these guys what to do. The question is, are they listening? Losing to the Grizzlies would not cost Brooks one of the best jobs in basketball. But losing his players’ ears would.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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