While the NBA reportedly won’t take further disciplinary action against Dillon Brooks after his hit to the groin area of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, the Memphis Grizzlies forward said Sunday that the contact was accidental.
In Saturday night’s Game 3 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, Brooks was ejected following a flagrant 2 foul after delivering the hit to James 17 seconds into the second half.
James writhed in pain on the floor after the contact. The officiating crew reviewed the play, which occurred in the backcourt, before determining it met the criteria for a flagrant 2, which comes with an automatic ejection.
“The media making me a villain, the fans making me a villain and then that just creates a whole different persona on me,” Brooks told reporters after practice. “So now you think I intended to hit LeBron James in the (groin). I’m playing basketball. I’m a basketball player. So if I intended — and that’s whatever is in the flagrant 2 category — if you think I did that, that means you think I’m that type of person.”
ESPN reported league officials reviewed the footage of the flagrant 2 foul and decided not to suspend Brooks.
The Lakers won the game 111-101 to take a 2-1 series lead. James scored 25 points.
This is the second consecutive postseason in which Brooks has been involved in controversy. Last season, he took down Golden State’s Gary Payton II with a flagrant 2 foul in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. Brooks was suspended one game while Payton missed the rest of the postseason with a fractured left elbow.
Brooks was booed throughout the first half of Saturday’s game in Los Angeles, mostly stemming from his verbal criticism of James earlier in the week.
“I’ve been dealing with this for two years now,” Brooks said. “It is what it is. The fans can talk (stuff), whatever they want to. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to keep playing my game and get better and better each and every day and as long as my career goes.”
Brooks is in his sixth season with the Grizzlies and was a second-round draft choice in 2017 after a standout career at Oregon. He has career averages of 14.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 345 games (318 starts).
Brooks, 27, had a tough outing Saturday from the outset. He scored seven points on 3-of-13 shooting in the first half.
The incident in Game 3 came three nights after Brooks ripped the 38-year-old James, calling the NBA’s all-time leading scorer “old” and saying his level of play has dropped.
James declined to state whether he thought Brooks should be suspended after the game.
“I’m not a part of that committee,” he said in an on-court interview with Spectrum SportsNet. “If he’s in the lineup, out of the lineup, we’ve got to prepare no matter what.”
Brooks had 18 technical fouls in the regular season, the most in the NBA. Over the league limit for technicals, he was suspended one game without pay when he hit No. 18.
–Field Level Media