Back during the Seattle hiring process, Presti watched video of Brooks coaching. Who watches coaches
on video? But Brooks had filled in a game or two for George Karl in Denver and Eric Musselman in Sacramento.
Presti watched for how Brooks made in-game adjustments. How he commanded a team in the huddle. How he would handle in-game adversity.
"I’d say he was passionate about his craft,” Presti said. "He didn’t take the opportunity to promote himself but really to carry out the system that was in place and just work that system, trying to keep that team functioning.”
Presti already had knowledge of Brooks’ competitive streak, which belies his calm demeanor but is fitting for a 5-foot-11 point guard in a league full of quarterbacks like Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, who will shank you if they can’t shake you.
"I looked at his identity as a player,” Presti said. "Someone that had to be prepared every night, had to earn their keep each step of the way. Also someone people raved about as a team-first person.
"People would say he’s a guy that was ready to play or ready to support what was best for the team.”
Brooks spent 10 years in the NBA as a journeyman point guard. He played in 680 games and made seven starts, six of them as a rookie. You don’t hang around that long with marginal talent unless you’re well-respected.
But Brooks is more than liked for his personality and respected for his consistency. He’s got a down-to-Earth nature that seems almost foreign to major-league sports. No pretense. No arrogance. No attitude. No belief that he’s got all the answers. No closed mind. No ego
Just a guy with a great job, doing a great job, and otherwise living a normal life.
"The demands on a head coach are extraordinary,” Thunder chairman Clay Bennett said. "His management of those pressures and his commitment to his family are exemplary.”
Presti has what he hoped for when he was handed this franchise. A coach who is low maintenance. A coach who coaches what he has and doesn’t complain about what he doesn’t have. A coach who coaches not just basketball, but a vision of the franchise.
And now Brooks is headed to Los Angeles, with a team that has the whole league talking, and he’s back on a list. The coach of the year list. At the very top.
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.