BOSTON — Washington Wizards Coach Scott Brooks has a treasure trove of stories from his playing days in the 1990s. He shared these gems from his two-month living experience with Charles Barkley. Then on Wednesday night, before the Wizards faced the Boston Celtics in Game 5, Brooks took a moment to remember another Charles — the tough guy of all tough guys, Charles Oakley.
Brooks offered insight about the differences between playing physical basketball today versus the ’90s era.
“It’s a totally different game. It’s much more free flowing. So much more spacing. When you were a shooting big, you were considered probably a softer player, and now it’s important to have shooting bigs,” Brooks said during pregame media availability. “It was just a different game. I like the way it’s played now. It’s basketball. It’s a beautiful game when all five guys are moving and sharing and spacing is good and all the great shooting.”
Then, Boston Herald reporter Steve Bulpett asked a lighthearted follow-up question, inquiring if Brooks had ever dared to drive the lane against Oakley.
“Did you see me walk up to the platform tonight? My body’s in pain from all the physicality,” Brooks replied. “It’s just different back then. You go through the lane and you might have some bruised ribs. You pressure up the court and [Bill] Laimbeer or [Jeff] Roland or Oakley, all the big guys are going to clobber you. Put you on the floor. Just different times.”
After the questions ended, Brooks quipped: “Thanks for bringing that up, Steve. I’m sore just thinking about Oakley.”
“Oakley had a no-layup rule in training camp when I played for the Knicks,” Brooks revealed, smiling. “Actually in September, just pickup games. Out of control.”