A familiar face returns to Chesapeake Arena on Jan. 2 when P.J. Carlesimo leads his Brooklyn Nets into Oklahoma City to battle the Thunder. If the name sounds familiar, it is because Carlesimo was the head coach when the Seattle Super Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. NewsOK.com spoke to Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks on Jan. 1 about facing his former boss on Wednesday night.
“I really appreciate what P.J. did for me, gave me an opportunity to work under him,” Brooks said. “He's a very good man. It was a great experience. I wish him success. I have nothing but good things to say about him. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around and he's done it at a lot of different levels — high school, college and the NBA.”
Oklahoma City fans have few memories of Carlesimo, much less any good ones. In his final season in Seattle, Carlesimo led his Sonics to a 20-62 record and then watched as they were swept out of town. He opened his first season as the Thunder's head coach with a 1-12 record before OKC fired him.
Seattle was used to losing. Oklahoma City wanted to build something different.
After starting off with an identical record of 1-12, Brooks finally turned his team around and finished the season, 20-30. The next season, Brooks led the team to a 50-32 record and the playoffs, winning NBA Coach of the Year honors. The next season, Brooks had them in the Western Conference Finals and the next year in the NBA Finals.
Carlesimo remained out of coaching, working as a television analyst after the Thunder fired him. He then joined Toronto last season as an assistant and joined the Nets' in 2011-12. Now, Carlesimo serves as the Nets Interim head coach, the same title Brooks held when he replaced Carlesimo in Oklahoma City. Brooklyn fired Avery Johnson last Thursday and Carlesimo has led the Nets to a 2-1 record since taking over.
“I think Scotty's done not a good job, I think he's done an incredible job,” Carlesimo said about the Thunder's head coach. “Is that a good roster? Yeah, it's a very good roster. But Scotty and that staff has done an excellent job with it to get it to where it is, in a very short period of time. You don't usually get there that quick.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets top off at 7 p.m. CST on Jan. 2.
For e-mail updates whenever a new article is posted, please click here and use the SUBSCRIBE button to follow me. Also join me on Twitter: @starvingdogs, GooglePlus, or join my group on Facebook.