Scott Brooks Talks Wall, Gortat (and a lot more) Before Celtics Game | Wizards Blog Truth About

Scott Brooks Talks Wall, Gortat (and a lot more) Before Celtics Game

Updated: February 9, 2018

[Scott Brooks at the podium before the February 8, 2018 game versus the Boston Celtics. Photo – A. Rubin]

THERE HAS BEEN a lot said about these Washington Wizards over the last few days. Much was from talking heads, much was from fans and much – perhaps too much – was from the Wizards’ players themselves.

On Thursday night before the national TV matchup with the Boston Celtics, it was Scott Brooks’ turn to talk. The normally reserved coach was in rare form during his customary pre-game availability and he covered a wide range of topics that had been on the minds of Wizards fans—and media.

On John Wall’s series of interviews where he responded to criticism of his playing style:

Brooks felt the criticism was unfair because Wall showed tremendous grit fighting through injuries and the coach left no doubt about how the team feels about Wall.

That’s the world we live in. You see it all the time. You see it here in our city. Things are said and people say things. John is one of the best players in basketball and I kind of admire a guy that plays through some ups and downs. When we met early in November with our doctors, Dr. Parker our medical team and John, we felt the best thing for him to move forward just continue to do a rehab and manage him and sit him out as many practices as we possibly can and I knew he was gonna have some good days and he was going to have some tougher days and it’s easy to judge him on those days that he wasn’t playing as well as he would have liked to, but I looked at is as he’s out there gutting it out for his team. To me that’s a winner and he was healthy last year and it’s just part of it.

On the supposed debate about whether the Wizards are better without Wall:

He knows how I feel about him, he knows how our organization, his teammates feel about him and for people to think that we are not better with John, that’s just for click bait and I guess that’s what they want to do and it probably worked in some cases but it hasn’t worked in our locker room.

Brooks said he did not speak to Wall after the interviews but he offered his general philosophy about dealing with outside distractions:

But I talk to all of our guys all the time. What’s being said about us, you can’t worry about that. You just have to worry about what you can control and our attitude every day is coming into work and do our job and be good teammates and focus on helping our team win and focus on getting better individually yourself.

Ok. But what about the fact that some of the noise is coming from Wall’s own teammate, Marcin Gortat, in the form of a tweet. Do John and Marcin need to have a talk?

Brooks initially dismissed the incident as run-of-the-mill drama that happens to every team.

You go through any team, any season, when I was a player you’re going to have disagreements with players and it’s not going to be our last one. It might be one tonight with Brad and I.  That’s just part of being a coach, part of being a teammate, you’re going to have those.  These guys are brotherhoods and they’re around each other so much.

Brooks chalked up tweet-gate to a miscommunication.

Was it a misunderstanding? Probably.

Then he offered a full-throated defense of his franchise point guard:

I know one thing that John is so unselfish, he leads the league in assists – or basically the top two since he’s been in the league. And last year we were third or fourth in the league in assists and it’s just not from his passing, we are all passing.  They hear it from me all the time ‘good to great’ share the ball. It could be nights that we’ve had 30 assists. It’s not like we’ve only started passing the ball – against Boston we passed the ball, at Detroit we passed the ball, here against the Pelicans and those two guys were having monster games and we passed the ball. We have to pass the ball. It’s not just the last four or five games.

Brooks mentioned again that the issue was nothing to be concerned about:

So when players have a misunderstanding you got to talk it out and move on and I have no problem with what our guys are about.

Brooks then turned his attention to Gortat and offered praise, as Brooks often does, for his screen setting. Then, in an unexpected twist, Brooks started to explain why Gortat does not get many shot attempts and — though this was not his intention — why Gortat’s value as an NBA center continues to decline:

Does Marc[in] want more post touches? Sure he does. Every big in the league wants more post touches. There’s no more post touches. It’s not coming back. It’s three-point, it’s pick and rolls and rolls to the basket and spread the floor. Post touches are not good percentage shots. I feel bad for Marc but he’s not going to get a lot of them. I’m going to throw some to him if he has a good match-up but he sets screens like nobody else. When he’s rolling, it’s really good, he makes passes and…

At this point Brooks stopped himself mid-sentence, as if he realized he was going down a path that was not responsive to any question that had been posed:

I don’t know really what I’m talking about.

Brooks paused again:

Am I right? Olajuwon is not coming back. There’s no more post touches.

Brooks’ soliloquy prompted a question about last season when the Wizards started every game with a post-up to Gortat and why the practice was stopped:

It was becoming a little inside joke between Marc and I. He actually came to me, ‘Coach, no more, no more, I can’t score on that first play in the game.’ So I said, ‘ok.’  This was like the end of last year, but it was almost a joke. It was almost like we were having fun with it. I still go to him every now and then. I try to get Kieff going. Sometimes I get Otto going. Tonight I’m going to probably go with Otto the first play so you can tell Brad [Stevens] that.

Brooks closed his remarks by returning to his initial premise that the Wall-Gortat misunderstanding is simply a function of playing on a competitive team. (Brooks also introduced the media room to a new term: high school harrys.)

Like I said I’ve been on a championship team and there’s times that you thought we wouldn’t win a game let alone a championship in ’94 and you’d have thought that Rudy Tomjanovich hated all of us. That’s part of the game. It’s a heavily competitive game and you have to have competitive guys and you don’t want everybody to just get along and have a bunch of high school harrys. You want to be able to get guys that are competitive, that are going to challenge each other, that are going to fight each other in practice in a competitive way. That’s how you get better. Every team I’ve been on, if you are not competitive you stink.

It was quite a spirited performance from Brooks and it seemed like the buzz from the nationally televised match-up with Boston had him fired up:

I’m excited. We have the Celtics. We have one of the best teams in basketball.

We played really good here on our last few home games against one of the best teams in the West and one of the best teams in the East and now we’ve got another one.


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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.