If there is one thing Dillon Brooks enjoys more than a good vest and jean shorts combo, it’s talking trash to players that are way better and more accomplished than him. And so from the moment the Lakers got matched up with the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, it was always clear there would be some sort of showdown between Brooks and LeBron James.
Well, credit Dillon with this much, because while he’s usually not praised for his situational awareness, he at least waited until the Grizzlies won a game to trash LeBron in the media. And trash him he did, as after scoring 12 points on 5-14 shooting while committing 5 fouls to lead Memphis to a series-tying 103-93 victory, Brooks called James “old” and insisted he was not afraid to poke a bear that could not even score 40 points against him:
Reporter: There are some people, when the Lakers are making that run and they get it to 14, you and LeBron have that exchange, there are some people that say ‘maybe you shouldn’t do that with one of the better players in the game.’ I guess what were you thinking there?
Brooks: “I don’t care, he’s old. I was waiting for that, I was expecting him to do that in Game 4 or Game 5, but he wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should’ve been saying that earlier on. But you know, I poke bears. I don’t respect no one until they come and give me 40, so I pride myself on what I do is defense and taking any challenge that’s on the board.”
Classic Dillon Brooks on his confrontation with LeBron James: “I don’t care. He’s old. … I poke bears. I don’t respect someone until he gives me 40.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 20, 2023
And Brooks had plenty more to say. pic.twitter.com/uWLONrubPZ
Now, far be it from me to question mixed metaphors, but as an aside, I certainly would not advise Brooks to disrespect an actual bear just because it has not yet scored 40 points against him in basketball. Check out the 2015 film “The Revenant” for more info on how that can go, but long story short, the film would have been much shorter if Hugo Glass had not aggravated a bear for little discernible reason.
Anyway, Brooks — who was benched for the entire rest of the third quarter after the exchange mentioned above — wasn’t done poking:
Dillon Brooks says he wish he would’ve gotten a chance to guard Miami or Cleveland LeBron James.— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) April 20, 2023
“It would’ve been a harder task.”
Brooks does have a point, at least on the scoring front. James has, in fact, never given him 40 in his career. The closest he came was in Cleveland, when he scored 34 points on 22 shots in a five-point win vs. the Grizz in 2017. So Brooks has gotten to guard Cleveland LeBron, and it was indeed a harder task.
The next most points James has scored against Brooks came in 2020, when he dropped a measly 32 on 17 shots in a 12-point win. Additionally, LeBron has averaged 25.2 pts on 52.2% shooting in matchup with Brooks, compared to Brooks’ own 10.6 points per game on 32.3% from the field. LeBron is 9-2 against him in the regular season, and now 1-1 in the playoffs.
That may sound good, but it’s not enough to earn Dillon the Villain’s respect. That is a more exclusive list that SB Nation’s own Damon Allred was kind enough to dig up:
list of people who dillon brooks respects (in chronological order):— damon allred (@iamdamonallred) April 20, 2023
lamarcus aldridge (x2), lou wiliams, kemba, cj mccollum, pg13, james harden (x3), devin booker (x2), jaylen brown, caris levert, andrew wiggins, ant edwards, steph curry (x2), kyrie, dame https://t.co/Ga10CQgd8x
In his younger days, it seems Dillon had some admiration for LeBron, but that was obviously before he realized that Washed Old Man couldn’t even score as much against him as Lou Williams:
Don’t get it twisted.— Letting Go (@ProvideContext) April 20, 2023
He’s just a big fan who wants to be a WWE heel. pic.twitter.com/kqyf2pCgQh
Now, is there any way this ends terribly for Brooks? Probably not, right? I mean it’s not like LeBron has ever gone LeGod mode after a physical defender who talks a lot pissed him off, right?
Oh, you’re telling me that has happened many, many times? And that the Lakers have definitely seen it?
wonder who that's about :) pic.twitter.com/6q5vJ3ppks— honi (the lebron james of tweet) (@HoniAhm) April 20, 2023
Ah, well then. I guess we’ll see if LeBron can earn as much respect from Dillon as Caris LeVert as this series shifts to Los Angeles. All we know for now is that Game 3 on Saturday just became even more of a must-watch television event than it already appeared.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.