Thunder notebook: Nick Collison healed, ready to return to the lineup

Oklahoma City has first practice since All-Star break. The session was short, but it sounded spirited as several voices boomed beyond the walls of the Sixers practice facility.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 28, 2012
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The Thunder is opening a three-game road trip on Wednesday against the Sixers. After playing Philadelphia, the Thunder will travel to Orlando for a Thursday night TNT game before wrapping up the trip at Atlanta on Saturday.

All three teams are above .500 and currently would qualify for the postseason as the 4th, 5th and 6th seeds (in the same order as the schedule) in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers, Magic and Hawks also are a combined 35-17 in their home arenas.

The Thunder, however, is 6-1 against the East.

“They're all very tough places to play … and they all have good records,” Brooks said. “They're playing good basketball. It's going to be tough. But we know what's at stake. We have to keep moving forward as a team. And we've always found ways to put ourselves in a position to win. We've always done that. But this road trip is going to test us.”

IBAKA WANTS IN 2013 DUNK CONTEST

Serge Ibaka, who many thought was robbed in last year's dunk contest, didn't seem overly impressed with what he saw in this year's edition over the weekend.

“It was OK,” said Ibaka, who attended All-Star Weekend in Orlando. “That's what it is.”

Ibaka voiced his interest in joining this year's field but did not get invited. He's already making it known that he wants in next year's competition.

“I would like to participate next year,” he said. “I hope the NBA will let me like last year.”

BROOKS MEETS LIL WAYNE

In thinking back on his first All-Star coaching experience, Brooks couldn't single out one experience that he enjoyed most.

“There were so many,” Brooks said. “Just meeting all the players and seeing our guys being a part of it. From a distance, just observing the way our guys interacted with all the other stars was a treat.”

A picture that documented one of Brooks' more random experiences has surfaced on the Internet. It's of the Thunder's coach standing shoulder to shoulder with Grammy Award winning rapper Lil' Wayne.

“That's my guy, man,” Brooks joked.

Brooks said he hadn't previously met Lil' Wayne but said they “talked for a few minutes” before tip-off Sunday.

“He wanted to know if I would host one of his parties in Miami. I declined, respectfully. I said maybe in the summertime,” Brooks said.

Brooks obviously was joking. After turning serious, Brooks said the moment captured was actually intended for his son.

“I went up to him,” Brooks said of Lil' Wayne. “I wanted him to take a picture with my son. I wanted to really have some fun with my son, but he didn't want any part of it. He's kind of laid back and shy. He threw me out there, so I was stuck with Lil' Wayne.”

When asked how many Lil' Wayne songs he knew, Brooks had a surprising answer.

“I know a lot of them,” he said. “‘How to Love' was a recent one. That's probably the best one.”

QUOTABLE

Brooks on All-Star Weekend: “Our organization had a great All-Star Weekend. Kevin won the MVP, Russell played extremely well and we won the game. So all the way around, it was great for our team.”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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