The Oklahoma City Thunder announced the hiring Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan to fill slot left open by the firing of Scott Brooks.
Donovan was pursued heavily by the Thunder after the team fired Brooks on April 22. It was reported that Thunder general manager Sam Presti had flown to Florida on Tuesday to meet personally with Donovan and by Thursday the deal was complete.
In its announcement, the Thunder reports that Donovan will become the team’s third ever head coach.
We are thrilled to welcome Billy and his family to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. When we began the process of identifying the next head coach of the Thunder, we started with a vision and the identifiable qualities that we felt were necessary for our organization as well as the ever evolving role of the head coach in today’s NBA. We wanted to identify a person with the traits associated with high achieving leaders in their respective fields; a continuous learning mentality, the ability to adapt, evolve and innovate, intrinsically motivated, humility, and great tactical competence.
While we created a comprehensive analysis regarding the qualities we were looking for, it became quite evident that Billy was the ideal fit for the Thunder as we look to transition our team into the future. Billy has achieved an incredible level of success and experience within his 21 years as a head coach and has shown the unique ability to not only create but sustain an elite program. His emotional intelligence, commitment to the concept of team, and relentless approach to incremental improvement have allowed him to bring his players together and establish lasting relationships through competitive success. Billy’s core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization.
“I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation,” Donovan said in the release.
The Thunder appears poised for greatness, but with star players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the verge of free agency, Donovan will have some convincing to do to keep them in Oklahoma City.
Donovan has been the head coach of the Florida Gators for the last 19 years and is the recipient of numerous collegiate coaching awards including ESPN.com’s National Coach of the Year (2001), the Wooden Award’s “Legends of Coaching” Honor (2010), and SEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2013, 2014).
Donovan also has a successful USA Basketball record having led the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team to a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal in Prague, Czech Republic and the 2012 USA U18 National Team to a 5-0 slate and gold in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
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