Thunder Coach Scott Brooks -AP
“I definitely take it personal. It hangs over me,” Brooks said. “We have to bring enthusiasm. We have to bring energy. Every game, I want guys to play with effort and my job is to find that effort. If a guy doesn’t have it I have to find somebody that can bring it and spark us by bringing that energy.”
As you can see from the Scott Brooks' quote published by the Daily Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City Thunder Interim Head Coach, is taking his teams effort personally. As well he should. The season may be almost over, and these guys are pretty far removed from having anything to play for, but Scott Brooks still has a lot lose, including his job. If you read the quote, he bases taking it "personally" to mean that its his job to get the effort out of his players, or find ones that will bring the effort he's looking for. I think he should be taking it personally because he's still auditioning to become a full time head coach in this league, and performances like these make it seem like the young coach isn't fully able to get his team to perform at they level they need to. In a sense, it makes him look like he has no control over his players, and is unable to find a way to motivate them despite their record. For a young guy trying to earn himself a full time head coaching gig, it makes him look weak, and that my friends, I would take personally.
For Thunder fans like myself, we have seen the improvement that has been made since Scott Brooks took over the team. If you haven't watched this team progress throughout the season, a quick look at his win/loss record, 20-42, may be off putting. After the way this team started the season, I'm not sure there were many of us out there who thought this team could still get to 20 wins. Hell, it wasn't all that long ago that the Thunder were 3-29, and had ESPN touting this team as the "Worst Team in NBA History." That of course, came with a lot of discussion as to whether or not this team would be able to surpass the worst win total in league history, 9 wins. Since then, the Thunder have won 18 games to go with 26 losses. I think we can all agree, that is some pretty stellar improvement. Scott Brooks was a major part of that, as well as the additions and subtractions that Sam Presti made to the roster.
Despite all the improved play, and tremendously improved record, Scott Brooks has not been offered any sort of contract extension or reworked deal to become the official head coach of the Thunder past this season. So for Scott Brooks, he has to continue to lay it all on the line in an effort to prove to ownership and general manager Sam Presti that he is the guy to help lead this team towards its future. With the effort given over the last 12 games (Save for the 2 Spurs and 1 Minnesota game), and more specifically these past two games (Portland and Indiana), Scott Brooks ability to motivate a team with essentially nothing to play for, could be called into question. From managements perspective, if he can't motivate these extremely young guys to play hard in an effort to grow, learn, and improve, despite their record, he may not be the guy they want to lead this team into the future.
Bottom line, most of the players on this team know where they stand, whether they will be brought back, let go, or traded, but Brooks future is still up in the air. So he has every right to take his teams recent lack of effort personally. He's counting on the effort and fight in these young guys to stay competitive and help earn him a contract as the full time head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. In many people's eyes, he's already earned it, but the Thunder management has yet to extend an offer, and the teams recent performance can certainly play a large role as to whether or not he'll be offered the full time gig or if they decide to look elsewhere. If the Thunder players like playing for Brooks, they'd better start showing more effort, and quickly, otherwise, Brooks may be a "one and done" coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Once again, that, I would take personally.