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Where are they now? Through passion and persistence, Brooks earns a new start in Sacramento

Where are they now? Through passion and persistence, Brooks earns a new start in Sacramento

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Published by: FishDuck on Jul 31, 2012
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Originally posted on FishDuck.com:http://fishduck.com/2012/07/where-are-they-now-through-passion-and-persistence-brooks-earns-a-new-start-in-sacramento/Where are they now? Through passion and persistence, Brooks earns a new start inSacramentoReported by Jerod Young on July 31, 2012 inFishWrap, FishWrap Archive | 0 CommentsAaron Brooks celebrates after his game winning shot, The Kiss, defeating #1 UCLAin 2007.Rěnnài. This is a Chinese word for patience.It is a word that former Duck point guard Aaron Brooks has had to learn. With the NBA players on strike for much of the 2011-2012 season, he chose to continue playing by going international, joining the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In fact, when the NBA lockout ended, Brooks was oneof only a few NBA players that stayed behind and honored his (full) CBA contractagreement.Who can forget that cool, crisp January 6th evening at legendary Mac Court in Eugene way back in 2007? Brooks was the senior leader of the No. 17 ranked OregonDucks that year, a team that was making waves in the Pac-10 with its fast-pacedplay and sniper-style deep range shooting prowess. That January evening was a special night not only for Ducks athletics, but it cemented the Aaron Brooks legacy in Eugene, giving a glimpse of how successful he’d be at the next level.The Ducks took on the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins in the Pit (not the first time the Ducks had downed the mighty Bruins at Mac Court when they were ranked #1). TheBruins were stacked with stars, like Lake Oswego’s own Kevin Love, and a pretty good current NBA starting point guard named Darren Collison. For Aaron Brooks, the final seconds of the game were a defining moment. His performance, a statementto show he was ready for what came next.Simple as that.There was only 19 seconds left on the clock when Brooks took over with the Ducksleading 66-63. His message to his team was simple, keep the ball in my hands, and that’s exactly what they did.Brooks sprinted with the ball up the floor and immediately took it to the rightwing, which drew a deadly triple team from Collison, Josh Shipp and Luc RichardMbah a Moute (also a current NBA player). Being a point guard requires the ability to be able to improvise, and with a triple team Brooks could have easily passed to a wide-open teammate. Instead he freestyled on the fly, using the one toolat his disposal–the glass.Due to the three defenders draping over him, it was impossible for Brooks to drive, which is what the defense was expecting he’d do. Instead Brooks took the rightbaseline jumper and gently kissed it off the glass, sending the ball into the basket, making the Mac Court nylon net explode and Fox’s own legend Barry Tompkinsyelling, “Brooks, gotta pull the trigger, got it off the window!” It gave the Ducksthe 68-63 lead and the 68-66 win over the top team in the country.It’s a game remembered for Brooks’ miraculous shot, the Ducks taking down number one, but also for the post-game reaction. It was a side of head coach Ernie Kent never seen before. In 1974, Ernie Kent played for an Oregon team that upset No. 1
UCLA. Thirty-three years later, Kent sobbed in the post-game press conference when his Ducks again knocked off the top-ranked Bruins.For Brooks, the statement he set out to make was heard not just around the Pac-10 Conference, but around the country. Aaron Brooks had scored 25 points by the time the clock reached zero. More importantly, Brooks’ shot, “The Kiss,” was the Ducks’ only field goal over the final seven minutes of the game, a contest where the Ducks had dominated early spurred on by the rabid Oregon crowd but feeling the concern of a last-minute comeback by the Bruins when the Ducks’ shot went cold in the2nd half.While the team win was big, Aaron Brooks’ individual victory of getting NBA scouts’heads to turn in his direction was bigger. brooks had been a highly-touted prospect from Seattle, WA, when he joined the Ducks, a player many teams coveted. Hewas thought to be the answer, carrying Oregon to 3-4 years of prosperity, the heir apparent to the “Two Lukes” glory days. That didn’t happen. Brooks first few yearsin Eugene were mired in inconsistent play, friction, and questions of his maturity.By his senior year though Brooks was a changed man and player, a proud new father and better basketball player, a true team leader capable of taking over a gameand willing his team to victory when duty called–essentially, the player everyonethought he was coming out of high school. The Ducks stormed through the Pac-10conference, winning the Pac-10 Tournament in a stunning display in the championship game vs. USC that featured a perfect shooting night from Bryce Taylor (7/7)and diminutive shooting guard Tajuan Porter torching the Trojans from deep range. It was one of the most impressive performances of team basketball seen in recent years, and conducting it all was Brooks, like a pitcher throwing a perfect game.The Ducks would make it as far as the Elite-Eight in the NCAA Tournament beforefalling to the eventual NCAA National Champion Florida Gators, giving the Gatorsthe toughest test they faced throughout the tournament largely outplaying UF but suffering from a case of whistle-happy referees leading to almost the entire Oregon starting lineup fouling out of the game.Five months after the unforgettable victory over #1 UCLA, at the 2007 NBA DraftBrooks was selected as the 26th overall pick by the Houston Rockets. Before dressing in Rockets gear, he was sent down to the Rockets D- League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, for two games where he formed a close bond with the community and team president Bert Garcia. Brooks helped conduct Rockets youth camps, including one run by the Vipers. Upon joining the Rockets, the team gave Brooks thebest present a player could ask for, the keys to the starting point guard position. Rafer Alston, the Rockets starting point guard, was traded to Orlando.Two years later he led the Rockets to the Western Conference Semi-Finals againstthe Los Angeles Lakers, where Brooks made his first big professional impact inGame 4 of the series. He torched the Lakers for 34 points and helped the Yao Ming-less Rockets even the series at 2-2. The Lakers would however go on to win theseries.Brooks continued his rise to success–on March 17, 2010, Brooks shot 7-7 from behind the three point arc against the Memphis Grizzlies, setting a new franchise record. On April 11, 2010, Brooks became only the sixth player in NBA history to make over 200 3-pointers and over 400 assists in a single season.To culminate a great start to a long, promising career, he was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player on April 23, 2010, averaging 19.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.6rebounds per game.
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.On November 6, 2010, Brooks suffered a sprained ankle. This allowed Houston’s young, promising point guard Kyle Lowry some starting time, and he took full advantage raising more than a few eyebrows of the Houston coaches and management.Brooks returned on December 19, 2010 in a 102-93 win over the Sacramento Kings,in which he came off the bench for 15 minutes and recorded nine points (all 3-pointers). In his first start since returning from his injury, on January 10, 2011, he tied his season-high 24 points, in a win over the Boston Celtics.However, in the month that Brooks was inactive, Houston found a younger, healthier Aaron Brooks in Kyle Lowry and Brooks was relegated to a bench role.On February 24, 2011, Brooks was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragić and afirst round pick. He went to Phoenix with the promise that the legendary Suns starting point guard Steve Nash was likely retiring very soon, so Brooks would begroomed to take over the starting job and that Nash was willing to play the twoguard so Brooks could play the point, putting the two players on the court at the same time.Neither of those promises from GM Lance Blanks came true. Nash stayed put and played with veteran two guard Vince Carter instead. Brooks was once again banishedto the bench, losing playing time and institutional memory of NBA competition.The one thing he didn’t lose was hope. Hope that he would get to play and have a chance to make a statement similar to the one he made on January 6, 2007 againstthe Bruins.Phoenix finished the 2010-2011 season tenth in the Western Conference at 40-42.Aaron Brooks played hard all while hardly playing, his team failing to make theplayoffs. He kept his head high and was ready for the 2011-2012 season with thoughts that it can only get better.There was only one problem, the NBA lockout. For the third time in two years Aaron Brooks was left sitting, waiting for NBA minutes.With the lockout in full swing, NBA players like Stephon Marbury, Kenyon Martin,J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler decided they weren’t going to sit, age and not play basketball. So instead they committed to playing for the Chinese Basketball Association, and other players joined European Leagues, expecting the lockout to last a very long time with both the players union and owners at an impasse.Aaron Brooks debuts for the Guandong Tigers of the CBA.Aaron Brooks finally got good news, receiving a call from the Guangdong SouthernTigers. They wanted him to be their sixth man point guard. He graciously accepted and signed a short-term contract. Like he did early in his NBA career, Brookshad instant chemistry and success with his team.On January 6, 2012, exactly five years after his miraculous shot that lifted theDucks over the No. 1 Bruins, Brooks scored 40 points while playing 38 minutes off the bench as Guangdong defeated the Tianjin Ronggang 110-97. Brooks was 5 points shy of tying the Guangdong single-game scoring record set by Du Feng.On February 16, 2012, Brooks was selected as the replacement starting point guard for the 2012 CBA All-Star game replacing J.R. Smith. In the All-Star game, Brooks led all competitors with 9 assists, but his Northern All-Stars team lost tothe Southern All-Stars, 122-112.As a restricted free agent, Brooks was eligible to receive an offer sheet from o

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