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Lathrop names community gym in honor of Scott Brooks
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LATHROP – It’s official. The gym at Lathrop Community Center is now known as the Scott Brooks Gym in honor of the former pro basketball player and now head coach for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lathrop native, who attended Lathrop Elementary and is a graduate of East Union High School, was also honored recently honored as NBA Coach of the Year for 2009-10.

The naming of the gym as a salute to Lathrop’s most successful athlete to date was part of the council’s action earlier this week on the establishment of a policy guideline for naming city parks and facilities. Under normal circumstances, the approval process for naming the Community Center gym in honor of the hoops start-turned pro-basketball coach would have taken approximately three months. However, an exception was made for the Scott Brooks Gym.

The resolution approving the new policy regarding the future naming of parks and facilities was approved by the council 3-0 with Councilman Christ Mateo absent. The fifth seat is currently vacant since March when former council member Robert K. Oliver resigned

The council will consider the type of sign that will be posted in the gym, and where it should be installed, at a future meeting when staff has come up with the different options.

In the last few months, longtime Lathrop resident Arnita Montiel who knew Brooks from the time he was just a child and a “gym rat” at the Community Center where he spent countless hours practicing the game that would catapult him to fame, went before the council urging them to give that honor to the professional athlete.

Commenting on the council’s decision, former mayor and life-long resident of Lathrop Bennie Gatto said that the city should “recognize people that have contributed to the city.”

Scott Brooks went on to become a famous athlete and coach, he said, “but when he left, he never came back.”

Mayor Kristy Sayles told Gatto “you’re entitled to your opinion” and she respected his opinion. But by making a name for himself, he has inspired countless people especially the young, she said.

“If (President) Obama can win the Nobel Peace Prize for inspiring hope, so can Scott Brooks for doing the same thing,” Sayles said.

Added Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal, “If we go ahead and do this (honoring Scott Brooks), it might bring him back to the community.”

Maybe the basketball great will say, “I’ve been away, and they still do this to honor me,” Dhaliwal said.

Brooks may even come to Lathrop sometime in the future and offer a basketball clinic to the youth in the area, he said.

The new Parks and Facilities Naming policy would require a review of the proposal and a public hearing process through the Parks and Recreation Commission, a process that would take approximately three months.

According to Brooks’ biography online, the 45-year-old coach is five feet-11 inches tall.

Montiel  then rattled off a small portion of Brook’s laundry list of accomplishments in the world of professional sports, as well as his educational accomplishments: NBA draft in 1987, member in chronological order of the Philadelphia 76ers (1988-90), the Minnesota Timberwolves (1990-92), the Houston Rockets (1992-1995), Dallas Mavericks (1995-1996), the New York Knicks (1996-1997), and the Cleaveland Cavaliers (1997-98). His career highlights include NBA Champion in 1994 and NBA Coach of the Year for 2009-10.