The Oklahoma City Thunder came out in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and took care of business. Scott Brooks had to be impressed with his young basketball team as they swept the Dallas Mavericks, who were the defending NBA Champions. With a young core of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City is a scary team to go up against right now. They are poised for a deep run in the Western Conference playoffs as they await the chance to take on the Los Angeles Lakers or the Denver Nuggets. Scott Brooks joined 106.7 The Fan in D.C. with The Mike Wise Show to discuss the Oklahoma City Thunder dealing with Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) elbowing James Harden, the NBA suspending Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) for elbowing James Harden and the progression of Russell Westbrook.
Go over how you dealt with the situation of Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) elbowing James Harden and what is on the horizon if you do end up playing the Lakers?
“I give a lot of credit to our guys. I never use this as an excuse, but we are a young team. We don’t act our age. Our guys are very mature. Russell Westbrook is only 23. James Harden is 22. Serge Ibaka is 22. Reggie Jackson is 21. Kevin Durant is 23. We have a young team, but we keep our composure in big moments and I tell the guys you have to. We are all professionals. We have to act it every time on-and-off the court. We will win with class and we will lose with class. That’s what the game is about. We have to set an example for ourselves, our people that follow us, our fans, but that incident? That was unfortunate. That was something that did happen, but I will say this: Thank goodness that James got out of it healthy. That was a dangerous play. Unfortunately it happened, but we have moved on. We are just focused on getting him back. He was back a couple of games later and just continued to play good. We didn’t play great basketball at the end of the year, but we were still working some things out, but I thought we had a great series against Dallas. They are not an easy team to play against.”
Did you think the 6-game suspension for Ron Artest was fair?
“I have a lot of respect for David Stern and what he has done for this league. He’s done an incredible job ever since I have been here over 20 years. I respect their decision and we were just focused on getting James back and getting our team back together and focusing up on finishing up strong and having a good run in the playoffs.”
How do you balance coaching the progression of Russell Westbrook?
“First of all I like toughness. I like guys [that are tough]. I can’t coach guys that are soft. I just can’t do it. I get so frustrated. I don’t want to be around them. I love toughness. I love guys that are going to compete. I love guys that are going to play with passion and are going to leave everything on the floor regardless of…you are not going to win every game, but at least give it everything you have and at the end of the game if they are the better team you shake their hand and move on. Russell? He plays hard on both ends and he leaves everything out. He gets a lot of criticism, but I love what he has done. He’s taken us to the playoff three years in a row as the point guard of our team. Kevin [Durant] has lead the league in scoring three times and he gets criticized about this a lot that he doesn’t pass the ball. Can he become a better passer? Absolutely. Our whole team can be a better passing team. That’s on me as I try to get this team to be a better passing team cause I know passing wins championships as much as defense does, but Kevin has lead the league in scoring three times. What do people want? Do they want him to lead it by scoring 10 more points a game? It doesn’t happen and he’s a great point guard and he’s only going to get better. He has another level or two of improvement.