PORTLAND — Long before Thunder coach Scott Brooks was watching Nolan Smith drive through the lane, he was watching him walk down the aisle.
A former 76ers teammate of Smith’s late father, Derek, Brooks made Nolan the ring bearer in his wedding.
Smith doesn’t remember, “but I do have pictures,” he said. “I was pretty young.”
But there are plenty of things about Brooks that Smith does remember.
The two remained close long after the day of matrimony, and Brooks continues to have an influence Smith’s life.
“Throughout the years, leading up till now, we’ve always had communication,” Smith said. “He talked to me during my college times, would send gifts on Christmas, and has always given advice.”
Brooks seemed pleased when he found at that Smith would get his first NBA start Tuesday, a decision that was made about an hour and a half prior to the game. He has watched Nolan mature over the years and wants to see him to well…to a certain point.
“I hope he does… OK tonight,” he said.
Fisher praised, then booed
Longtime Laker Derek Fisher was lauded by Brooks before the game, the Thunder coach calling the veteran point guard a “great pickup” who has “been through a lot of things our guys will eventually go through.”
One of those things was winning a championship at the expense of the Blazers.
Rose Garden fans don’t forget these things, so when Fisher checked into the game late in the first quarter, the boos came from every direction.