When the Wizards were at their lowest points this season, during their worst losing streaks, no one took more heat from fans than head coach Scott Brooks. He's in the final year of his contract and, despite all the injuries and the unprecedented ordeal the team had with the coronavirus, Brooks received a lot of the blame.
That, of course, comes with the job. But now that the Wizards have completed a remarkable midseason turnaround, going from 17-32 on April 5 to postseason-bound and the eighth seed in the East, Brooks deserves some credit for that, too. It's only fair.
So, his star guard Russell Westbrook made a point to do just that after Sunday's win over the Hornets, their 17th win in 23 games on their way to clinching the No. 8 seed in the East. Westbrook wasn't asked about Brooks, he brought him up on his own.
"Players get a lot of credit because we're on the floor. But behind the scenes, Scotty is one hell of a coach. Not just that, a person, and he does an amazing job making sure we've got all our stuff together," Westbrook said.
"If it wasn't for him and his ability to be able to make decisions on the fly, make the right calls and put the right guys in and out of the game and put us in the right place to be successful, a lot of this stuff wouldn't be happening. All of the outside noise, it really doesn't matter, honestly, because we know how important he is, and I know how important he is to myself and to the team."
Westbrook and Brooks go way back to their days in Oklahoma City where they spent seven years together.
They have since reunited in Washington and, though it didn't get off to a great start, they are once again winning a lot of games in partnership.