Dillon Brooks’ decision to poke the bear following the Memphis Grizzlies’ Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers seemed to motivate LeBron James and Co.
The Lakers won three of the next four contests to wrap up the first-round series in six games. However, Brooks doesn’t believe his verbal jabs at James had any bearing on the final outcome.
“I don’t regret it,” Brooks said Sunday during the team’s exit interviews. “I’m a competitor. I compete. I don’t think it got LeBron geeked up. He’s back in the playoffs. It’s been a little while, so I think he was ready to play.
“And overall, we just got beat by a better team. A bigger team. Guys that have their whole team, the pieces there.”
James said last week that he wasn’t fueled by Brooks’ comments, but the four-time Finals MVP finished the series strong, averaging 21 points, 11 boards, and 5.8 assists over the last four contests.
He tallied a playoff career-high 20 rebounds in the Lakers’ Game 4 overtime win and particularly relished a game-sealing and-1 drive with Brooks guarding him.
James later appeared to taunt the Grizzlies and Brooks in a series of social media posts the day after Los Angeles progressed.
Still, Brooks stands by his agitative tactics, maintaining it’s always been part of his identity.
“That’s who I am and that’s what I’m going to be,” Brooks said. “At the end of the day, it’s just competition. It’s competing. And most people are scared to compete, and that’s why they get rattled or feel some type of way when I play against them.
“It’s because I’m trying to compete at the highest level I can, and that’s the only way that I got into this league. … So I’m not going to change. I’m going to keep doing what I do and get better.”
Brooks averaged 14.3 points, 3.3 boards, and 2.6 assists over 73 regular-season appearances. He struggled on the offensive end in the playoffs, shooting just 23.8% from deep and 31.2% overall.
He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
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