When Dillon Brooks said he wasn’t afraid to “poke the bear” in reference to LeBron James, most did not assume he would be so literal. But when the known instigator came out of halftime and began the third quarter of Lakers vs. Grizzlies Game 3 by punching LeBron in the LeBalls 17 seconds in, he was promptly assessed a Flagrant 2 penalty upon replay and ejected from the game.
Here is the video, for those who missed it live:
Dillon Brooks was ejected after receiving a flagrant 2 for this hit to LeBron. pic.twitter.com/LL9CLRAryy— ESPN (@espn) April 23, 2023
Brooks finished with 7 points on 3-13 shooting in 19 minutes of playing time, and credit where credit is due: Getting ejected while LeBron James had just 15 points at the time was one way to ensure that The King couldn’t get 40 on him (James finished with 25 in the eventual 111-101 win).
The funniest part of this, however, was Dillon the Villain declining to poke the bear again after being thrown out of the defeat:
Dillon Brooks declined an interview request. “I ain’t talking,” he told me.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 23, 2023
For The King’s part, he said he just tried to “protect his crown jewels.”
LeBron on reacting to the Brooks ejection: “Just focusing on the game plan. There was a lot of game to be played when that incident happened. So just tried to get up, protect my crown jewels, and move on to the next play.” https://t.co/9nWYxYVEsc— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 23, 2023
In all seriousness, though, there is no place for that kind of dirty play in the game, but it’s also not exactly surprising coming from Brooks. And given his history of, to paraphrase Steve Kerr, “breaking the code” with stuff like this, it would seem to be at least theoretically possible that the league will suspend Brooks for Game 4, ala Draymond Green, but it seems more likely that the NBA will just let this ejection and embarrassment serve as enough of a punishment.
And really, isn’t Brooks playing offense for the Grizzlies punishment enough for that team? It certainly is for the rims. The Lakers should petition the league to allow him to play.
Either way, Game 4 is on Monday in Los Angeles, and one has to assume that the crowd isn’t going to be much kinder to Brooks (if he plays) and his teammates in that one after this kind of chicanery.
This breaking news story may be updated with more information as it continues to develop. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.