Oklahoma City Thunder: Who are these guys? Meet the Thunder's staff members

You know head coach Scott Brooks, and probably assistant Maurice Cheeks, but here's a look at the rest of the crew that you see sitting on the bench at Thunder games.
BY JOHN ROHDE Published: April 15, 2013

As Butch said to Sundance: “Who are those guys?”

And what's with all the suits?

NBA teams are allowed 15 players on their roster and roughly the same number of staff members reside in the first and second rows on the team bench.

Some suits you know well, like head coach Scott Brooks, who moved one chair over when he replaced P.J. Carlesimo just 13 games into the Thunder's existence back in 2008.

“It's important to have a good-looking staff,” Brooks deadpanned. “Plus, they dress nice.”

Assistant Maurice Cheeks, a former NBA All-Star point guard who someday is expected to be voted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame, is another familiar name and face.

Bonus points if you recognize fellow assistants Rex Kalamian, Mark Bryant, Brian Keefe and Maz Trakh.

Big bonus points if you can name Marc St. Yves, Dwight Daub, Donnie Strack, Joe Sharpe, Vin Bhavnani and Scott Simpson.

Good chemistry is a must for players. It's also necessary for a staff.

“It's not the No. 1 thing,” Brooks said of having a quality staff, “because you have to have good players, but it's as important as everything we do here. If it wasn't for our staff, we wouldn't have improved the way we have. Everybody's important. I look at the staff as everybody in the building.”

This season, the Thunder became the first NBA franchise to improve its winning percentage for five straight seasons with two of those percentages in the .700s — from .244 (20-62) in 2007-08; to .280 (23-59) in 2008-09; to .610 (50-32) in 2009-10; to .671 (55-27) in 2010-11; to .712 (47-19) in 2011-12; to .738 (59-21) so far this season.

Somewhat amazingly, Brooks has not lost a highbrow assistant since defensive specialist Ron Adams went to the Chicago Bulls in June 2010.

“I've been fortunate,” Brooks said. “Not only do I have a good coaching staff, we've stayed together, which has kind of surprised me. It's not going to always be that way with opportunities to move up to a head coach. We have guys on our staff who are going to become head coaches soon, but that's part of being on a good team. Other organizations are going to take some of your staff members.”

Respect the suits, for someday they might be gone.

“They're so important to me and so important to our players,” Brooks said.

JOE SHARPE

Job title: Head athletic trainer

Joined Thunder: 2008

College: Old Dominion

Resume': Served as head basketball athletic trainer at Connecticut for nine seasons, which included winning the 1999 national championship. Also has been an athletic trainer on multiple occasions for USA Basketball, including the gold medal team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

SCOTT BROOKS

Job title: Head coach

Joined Thunder: 2007

College: TCU/Cal Irvine

Resume': Played 10 seasons in the NBA for seven teams, then became player/coach in the ABA. NBA coaching began as an assistant for Denver Nuggets (2003-06), Sacramento Kings (2006-07) and Seattle SuperSonics (2007-08). Replaced P.J. Carlesimo as OKC coach 13 games into 2008-09 season.

MAURICE CHEEKS

Job title: Assistant coach

Joined Thunder: 2009

College: West Texas State (now West Texas A&M)

Resume': All-Star and world champion point guard for Philadelphia 76ers, who also spent seven seasons as head coach for Portland and Sixers. More than 30 years of NBA experience, he spent 11 of his 15 seasons as a player with the Sixers. Coaches the OKC guards, including Russell Westbrook.



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