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Dean's Blog: Bootlegger's Boy & Scotty Brooks

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Just how important is coaching in professional sports when you have a loaded team? Jimmy Johnson won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Cowboys. Uncle Jerry fired him, announced there were 500 coaches who could win a title with all that talent, and hired another Razorback teammate to run things and prove him right. The list soon dwindled to 499 when Barry Switzer got off his couch, bought a whistle and hoisted Lombardi.

But were there really 499 other coaches who do that? Fact is, since the Bootlegger's Boy won his last playoff game in the 1996 season, the Cowboys have won exactly one playoff game. Uno. 1. That's 17 years. years. Maybe the Mad German could coach. And, maybe the talent level has dipped so low since then that not even Bill Parcells could win a stinkin' playoff game.

What about the Heat? A lot of people said after Miami's first NBA title with LeBron that anyone could coach LBJ, D-Wade and Bosh to a title. But when they went back-to-back it was obvious that for as good as that team was, and as good as Pat Riley is as a leader of that organization, Erik Spoelstra can coach a little too.

Which brings us to the OKC Thunder. Whereas Switzer inherited a two-time defending world champ, Scott Brooks inherited a first-year team that had been awful. Each immediately had hall-of-fame talent on the roster, but while the bar literally couldn't have been higher on the former Oklahoma coach in Dallas, TX, the new NBA fans in OKC were thrilled to just have a team. Win some games and King for a day.

Fast-forward to today. Per ESPN's recent player rankings, the OKC has two of the top four players in the game. Serge is no slouch. Nice complimentary players. Even with the uncertainty surrounding Westbrook, Vegas still pegs OKC the 7/1 second favorite to win it all—although in my humble opinion, this Thunder team couldn't hang with the one two years ago that lost to the Heat in the Finals. That teams sixth man checked in on ESPN's list as their fifth man. No. 5 player in the game.

But Scott Brooks has undeniably been dealt a very good hand. And while it's definitely not what Spoelstra has in Miami (we'll save for another day the discussion of how Riley is able keep the Ray Allens and Shane Battiers while the Thunder lose the Hardens and KMarts...and why the Thunder draft for the future and signs the Ryan Gomes' and Derek Fishers and don't sign the Mike Millers, while Riles goes and gets Greg Oden and Michael Beasley—former No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks).

The bottom line is that despite the fact that multiple teams in the West look like contenders, if Russell truly returns healthy in two weeks, this roster is at least good enough to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Anything less, and the offseason evaluation of Brooks could be tough.

Brooks deserves respect. And hopefully, good guys sometimes finish first, because Foreman Scotty is genuinely a good guy. His winning resume' speaks for itself. Brooks is the only coach to record more wins in five consecutive season. The affable and never arrogant Brooks is really good in some really important areas. The players like him. Respect him. And play hard for him.

But it's time Brooks takes it to another level. Specifically, beginning on the court by insisting the ball not get stuck. Four players watching one doesn't work in the long haul. Don't care if you have KD, Russ or Wilt Chamberlain. Brooks must add this to his vocabulary: "Pass the basketball or sit your arse next to mine." Brooks must manage minutes better, find some low-post scoring and keep Russ under control. And if Jeremy Lamb or no one else is the answer to the missing points mystery, beg for new blood. Pursuade the GM and the Money Changers to find someone who is. Because……

In sum, because the repercussions of not winning big are unacceptable. You can book it. KD's deal is up after three years. I have it on good authority, that KD has made it clear. Only one way he stays. Winning big.

KD has a new wife, a big-time agent and big-time dreams. Dreams he'll fervently pursue under brighter lights where winning is more likely.

So the charge to Brooksy is what my good friend Jerry Jeff Walker occasionally belts out: "Pick up the tempo just a little bit and take it on home! The clock officially begins ticking in Salt Lake City in about forty minutes. Good luck. We're keeping score.

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