OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks has not had much interaction with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, but he has respect for the man that he will be seeing more of in the coming weeks.
“I don’t know him well,” Brooks said. “I’ve talked to him a few times. I have a lot of respect. It’s not ... this is a job that we all take pride in, and we’re thankful for the opportunity. He has a great team, and we also have a great team, but I have a lot of respect for what he does and the preparation that it takes to be a coach in this league. It’s not always easy. You have to ... there’s a lot of time, there’s a commitment, there’s sacrifices. But he’s done a great job.”
Spoelstra mirrors Brooks’ sentiments.
“He’s done a terrific job,” Spoelstra said. “The franchise has really been committed to their vision. Everybody has been on the same page about it. You can tell that they have a philosophy, a definitive philosophy and a culture that everybody has bought into, and it’s not a coincidence that they’ve been able to build this thing up quickly.”
During the lockout this offseason, it was common practice for players to work out together to stay at the top of their game.
The Thunder’s Kevin Durant and the Heat’s LeBron James came together during that time.
The relationship between the star players has continued to grow for years.
“Well, our relationship has been growing since he was in high school, all the way through Texas and all his years in the NBA,” James said of Durant. “For me, I understood what the situation he was getting himself into being drafted as high as he was, and the things that came with being drafted to a team that needed a marquee player or a superstar. You know, from Day One I always lent my hand out to guide him if he needed it, to help him, to mentor him if he needed it through anything, and that’s on and off the floor, because to that point I seen everything, and I’m still learning, but I’ve seen everything on and off the floor.
“Our relationship is really good. Our relationship is going to continue to grow, and I’m happy to be in this position where I can compete against him.”
The Thunder’s locker room has a loose feel to it as the team treated the day before the first game of the NBA Finals as just another day of work. Oklahoma City’s two biggest, young stars, Russell Westbrook and Durant, felt good following their work Monday afternoon.
“Great,” Westbrook said. “Our guys are coming in and getting their work in like a usual day, focusing on detail and what the keys to beating Miami are, and I think guys have done a great job the last few days.”
Durant added that nothing will be handed to them; Oklahoma City will have to “take it.”