Scott Brooks, head coach for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, played point guard for the UCI Anteaters in his final two years of college.
He holds the UC Irvine record for career free-throw percentage and ranks fourth in career steals and seventh in three-pointers made.
He later was inducted into the UCI Hall of Fame.
Brooks led the Thunder to the NBA Finals this season only to lose to the Miami Heat. His team has made it to the NBA playoffs each of the past three years and the Western Conference Finals the past two seasons.
Brooks was in Southern California recently to lend his support to the second annual UCI/Scott Brooks Golf Invitational. The tournament raises funds to support student-athlete scholarships at UCI. He talked basketball and golf.
How does a UCI Anteater end up in Oklahoma City?
A little luck, hard work, and a lot of support from my wife and kids. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career as a player and now as a coach, and the opportunity to be in a place like Oklahoma City with an amazing organization is very special to me.
What was the NBA Championship like for you?
Every NBA coach and player dreams about being in the NBA Finals. Although we came up short, it gave us valuable experience that we can take into this season.
Is the NBA in good shape as a league?
Absolutely. We have guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Derrick Rose and many others throughout the game who are not only fantastic players but also good people who believe in being caretakers for the league and are working hard to continue to progress the game.
How did you become interested in golf?
I’ve enjoyed playing golf for quite a while now, but I definitely don’t play as much as I’d like to based on our season and my family’s busy schedule. I’ve enjoyed the game so much because you can never master it. I love the challenge. Also it is a sport that can be played my entire life with family and friends.
What makes you interrupt your busy schedule to come play in this tournament?
I was very fortunate to have received a scholarship from UC Irvine in the mid-’80s. It is an honor to give back to the university that has put me in a position to have success. This tournament will help the many great scholar athletes at UCI.
Do you have a favorite course in Southern California?
There are so many that it is hard to choose just one. The beauty of Southern California golf courses is that you can plan an outing with buddies and can almost guarantee that the weather will allow you to play. Most of the country does not allow that.
What’s more nerve-wracking, putting or free throws?
Even though my all-time career percentage from 15 feet at the free throw line is definitely better than my all-time percentage putting from five feet, I’d still have to go with free throws. I’ve never had 20,000 people screaming for me to miss when I’m on the putting green.
Who is in your dream foursome?
My dream foursome would be Nelson Mandela, Arnold Palmer and my son, Chance.