LATHROP – Betsy Poindexter could always tell when “that boy” was coming down the street as he was always bouncing a basketball.
Poindexter lived by the Lathrop Community Center where “that boy” was a virtual gym rat - even sneaking into the building when it was closed - whenever he had free time from working in the fields to help his mother feed their family.
“That boy” is Scott Brooks who today is the National Basketball Association coach of the year after leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to their best season ever. He’s a former NBA player who was on the 1994 Houston Rockets championship team. The 5-foot-11 point guard and East Union High standout also played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
There was no fanfare when the Lathrop Community Center gym was named the Scott Brooks Gym by virtue of a unanimous vote by the City Council.
That was in September 2010 when the council approved the resolution naming the gym in honor of the young city’s most prominent professional athlete today. On June 25, the big fanfare will take place inside the Scott Brooks Gym with no less than the man of the hour himself as the special guest of honor.
“We are celebrating the naming of the gym and Scott Brooks is coming out for it,” happily announced longtime Lathrop resident Arnita Yepez Montiel who got the ball rolling for Brooks when she went before the council last year with the proposal to honor Lathrop’s successful son by lending his name to the gym where he spent years perfecting his athletic craft that catapulted him to fame.
The celebration is a dinner in Brooks’ honor. It was a long time coming because, as Montiel explained it, “he had to pick a time when he could come. We really wanted to have a dinner for him and have him come out.”
East Union’s retired Coach Bill Stricker is working with Jaime Hernandez of the Lathrop Lions club in “putting this dinner together” along with a basketball clinic that Brooks will be conducting for two days at Lathrop High School, Montiel said.
“We’re really excited about the Lions Club honoring him and having come out for dinner. We’re so thankful that he’s coming and is going to spend some time with us and the people that know him, and so that the people that don’t know him can meet him,” she added.
“Our guest speaker will be Coach Stricker, his mentor at East Union. But his first coach from Lathrop grammar school and his wife will be there as well. He taught at Lathrop (Elementary) School for years and he comes to our Old Timers’ Reunion every year. All the folks love to see him, the ones who knew him when he taught there. I think it’s going to be a nice night for (Brooks) and his old teammates and all the teachers when he went to school here,” Montiel said.
The dinner will be catered by Fagundes Meats in Manteca. Dinner tickets are now available at $25 per person or $45 per couple. The menu will consist of tri-tip and chicken, salads, rolls and drinks. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. for a meet and greet with dinner served at 5 p.m.
To order tickets for the Scott Brooks dinner, call Montiel at (209) 858-2877 or (209) 629-0883.