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Naming gym for Brooks prompts debate
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LATHROP – J. “Chaka” Santos, a Lathrop businessman and entrepreneur and, lately, a candidate for mayor in the Nov. 2 elections, told the City Council Monday night that he’d rather have the Community Center gym named after any of the long-time residents rather than basketball great and 2010 NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks.

Santos mentioned the names of some of Lathrop’s prominent and philanthropic longtime residents that, he said, would qualify for the honor – the Lums, the Gattos, the Montiels, and the Elliotts – “not Scotty Brooks.” While acknowledging his phenomenal success, Brooks is not like any of the people he mentioned, helping their community.

“Where’s he at now?” Santos asked, referring to Brooks.

The answer to his question came quickly from Arnita Montiel, the longtime Lathrop resident who remembers “Scotty” as a young kid dribbling his basketball in the driveway of the man who was to become her husband, Jim, and the woman who went before the council at the start of this month urging them to honor one of their very own by christening the place in the Community Center where the player started his dream the Scott Brooks Gym.

“Scott Brooks can’t be here because he’s the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Naturally, he can’t be here because his livelihood is being on the road with his team. He’s a young man born and raised here in Lathrop. I read you his credentials the last time I was here. He’s on the Manteca Hall of Fame. And his pictures are all over Applebee’s in Manteca,” Montiel pointed out.

She added she was “so disappointed” that nothing has been done by the council since she brought up the issue.

“I thought this would be done by now,” Montiel said. “Nobody has come up and said anything. I take that back. Many years ago, that was brought up (during the time of the town’s first city manager John Bingham) and he shot it down!”

Actually, the naming of the gym was one of the things that Bingham shot down, Montiel said.

As for the suggestion of naming the gym after her family or other prominent Lathrop residents, Montiel said, “We don’t do (things) for a pat in the back – not the Lums, not the Gattos, not the Montiels. I never played basketball but Scotty did. Kids in Lathrop will have someone to look up to. When we do things, we do them from the heart, not to be honored. We do it from the heart.”