The Memphis Grizzlies dropped Game 3 in Los Angeles to fall behind the Lakers 2-1 in their first round series, making Game 4 on Monday a critical game to avoid finding themselves on the brink of elimination.
While they managed to make the final score somewhat respectable at 111-101, the game was over almost immediately, as the Lakers jumped out to the biggest first quarter lead in NBA Playoffs history at 35-9. Game 3 starting as it did following Dillon Brooks’ comments about LeBron James in which he called James “old” and said he didn’t “respect no one” until they scored 40 on him, thrust Brooks further into the spotlight and in the second quarter he got ejected for hitting LeBron James in the nuts.
It was the second such ejection of the playoffs, as James Harden got tossed from Game 3 in Brooklyn for doing the same thing as an offensive player. Brooks turned down interview requests after the game, but spoke on Sunday after practice and blamed the media and fans for painting him as the villain, believing the perception of him as the reason he got tossed.
Dillon Brooks, speaking after practice today, said he thinks the perception of him influenced the flagrant 2 call in Game 3. “The media making me a villain, the fans making me a villain, that just creates another persona on me.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 23, 2023
The league has stated quite clearly this postseason that a player’s reputation for making dirty plays and picking up flagrants and technicals plays into how they handle punishment, as that was the leading reason for Draymond Green’s suspension from Game 3 after he stomped on Domantas Sabonis in Game 2. So, from that standpoint, Brooks may be right that his perception as a player was factored into the ejection, but he has built that reputation for crossing the line on the court all on his own.
There’s no one else to blame for past instances of hitting opponents below the belt, which has gotten him called out as a dirty player by his peers. Beyond that, there’s no one forcing him to make inflammatory comments — although, I will say, we as the media do enjoy and appreciate it because it makes for terrific content. It’s odd for him to now be upset about the villain label that he and the Grizzlies have previously seemed to embrace.
There’s even an entire profile on Brooks by ESPN from March that starts with this line in the second paragraph: “Dillon Brooks, a man who has earned and embraced the nickname ‘Dillon the Villain,’ is staring into his locker…”
None of this is new to the last few days, but what is new is that the Grizzlies just got blitzed in the first quarter after Brooks’ comments about James and then Brooks got tossed — which some would say was better for Memphis than it was L.A. For Brooks, a 2-1 deficit in the first round isn’t the time for internal reflection and as such we get his I Think You Should Leave moment here where he’s looking for the guy who did this.