- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Oklahoma City Thunder hired coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday, removing the interim tag from the 43-year-old’s job title and giving him his first head coaching gig.

The announcement came earlier in the day before the Thunder played the Los Angeles Clippers in both team’s season finale. While the season didn’t pan out as expected with the Thunder stumbling to a 22-59 record, Brooks scored high marks from management for his handling of young players.

General manager Sam Presti said Brooks proved his ability to communicate with a young team while demonstrating the necessary passion to help players improve.

Brooks took over for P.J. Carlesimo on Nov. 22 after the team got off to a 1-13 start. He was 21-47 afterward.

“It’s a thrill that I’m going to be a part of this organization. I believe in Sam and his vision,” Brooks said. “We’ve been on the same page since I’ve taken over and I like what we have established since we’ve been together.”

The team did not release the contractual agreement, which was decided on early this morning by both sides, but Brooks said it was a multiple year deal.

Most players had voiced approval with bringing Brooks on permanently in the days prior to the decision, and leading-scorer Kevin Durant was giddy with satisfaction about the move.

“I’m very excited for him. I think it’s a dream come true,” Durant said. “It’s a great feeling to see somebody fulfill their dreams because he has worked so hard for it and he deserves it. He’s been doing a great job.”

Players knew about the hiring before the game, but Brooks had not officially told them.

“I will do that before the pre-game talk about the Clippers. The focus is not on me. I’ll talk about the Clippers and say ‘By the way, I’m going to be coaching you guys next season.’”

A native of Lathrop, Calif., Brooks spent six years as an NBA assistant coach with the Thunder (2007-2008), Denver Nuggets (2003-2006) and Sacramento Kings (2006-2007) following an 11-year NBA playing career.

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