LeBron James brushes off recent jabs by Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James will let his game do the talking when the Los Angeles Lakers‘ first-round series against the self-proclaimed bear-poking Dillon Brooks and the Memphis Grizzlies continues with Game 3 on Saturday.
“I’m not here for the bulls—,” James said after practice Friday, cutting off his media availability after sidestepping Brooks-related questions for about five minutes. “I’m ready to play and that’s it.”
Following the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies’ 103-93 win in Game 2 to even the series 1-1 against the No. 7 Lakers, the 27-year-old Brooks took aim at the 38-year-old James, doubting the 20-year veteran’s effectiveness at this stage of his career.
“I don’t care — he’s old. You know what I mean?” Brooks said Wednesday after staring down James on the floor when he hit a 3 in the fourth quarter. “I was waiting for that. I was expecting him to do that Game 4, Game 5. He wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should have been saying that earlier on. But I poke bears. I don’t respect no one until they come and give me 40.”
James said he hadn’t heard Brooks’ comments until a reporter asked about them.
When asked if he’s ever been in a playoff series with an outcome that hinged on trash talk, James downplayed the significance of the extracurricular activity.
“The game is won in between the four lines,” he said. “Always has, always will be.”
James’ teams are 10-3 against Brooks in his career. James’ highest scoring total in those games is 34 points, as he has averaged 25.2 points on 52.2% shooting in the 11 regular-season games. Through the first two games of this series, James is averaging 24.5 points on 51.3% shooting and 11.5 rebounds.
Lakers reserve forward Rui Hachimura, just 25 years old himself, said Brooks’ comments showed the Grizzlies’ immaturity.
“I heard about it,” Hachimura said Friday. “I’m not really into social media, but I heard about it. Honestly, that’s all they can do. They’re a young team. They just want to talk. We just don’t really care. We’re going to play our game and we’re trying to win the games.”
James has used trash talk both real and imagined to motivate himself in the past. Heading into the 2021-22 season, he started to refer to himself as the Washed King in social media posts after an ESPN poll of 10 anonymous scouts and executives did not give him a single vote as the best player in the NBA.
The four-time MVP and four-time champion did not to refer to Brooks by name at any point in his media session.
“I mean at the end of the day, there’s 10 guys on the floor,” James said. “There’s 10 guys on the floor. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the league and we have to respect that. No matter who is out in a Grizzlies uniform during that particular time, during that quarter, during that minute, we’ve got to respect everybody and we got to execute offensively.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham expressed confidence that James would not be rattled in any way heading into the Lakers’ first full-capacity home playoff game in a decade.
“LeBron needs to come out and do what he’s always done,” Ham said. “Just play the right way. Everything else will take care of itself.”