“I Feel Like I Always Had Him” | Dillon Brooks Speaks On His “Villain” Persona And LeBron

Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks opened up about this infamous dustup with LeBron James during last season’s playoffs and the villain persona that he’s courted and has been thrust upon him. He doesn’t seem fazed and will likely continue to do the same in Houston.

“I feel like I always had him. I feel like that series was thrown upon me cause of the words that I say, but I’ve been saying things all year and we won 50 games,” Brooks said in an interview with Sportsnet.

Brooks Is An Easy Scapegoat

Brooks jawed with LeBron during last year’s playoffs, and he and the Grizzlies took it on the chin, losing in six games in the first round matchup. A disappointing outcome for a team with the second-best record in the conference. In many ways Brooks was the poster child for the Grizzlies’ ineptitude that series. All growl and no bite.

It’s easy in hindsight to say Brooks’ horrendous offense and talking smack lit a fire under LeBron and got the Grizzlies beat, but that wouldn’t be accurate.

Much of the Grizzlies’ disappointing finish can be tied to team leader Ja Morant getting himself into trouble and suspended toward the end of the regular season. The team chemistry and cohesion wasn’t the same since.

Brooks was an easy scapegoat. Does he talk a lot? Yes. But so do the entire Grizzlies team. Did he shoot poorly? He was horrible. But so too were most of the Grizzlies.

What Brooks is is an elite defender and a physical player. He made second team All-Defense last season. He relishes in the thankless job of guarding the opponent’s best wing scorer and/or primary playmaker.

Brooks Is A Valuable Player

Getting worn out by the league’s apex predator scorers is not fun, and there is a reason why only a handful of players want that assignment. The want to and the ability to play elite defense is a valuable skill that helps teams win games.

In order to do that Brooks feels he has to tap into a bit of a persona as a villain. If that’s what works for him, so be it.

Contrary to popular belief, the goal of playing defense isn’t to shut out the league’s best players. That’s impossible. The goal is to make them take shots that have a lesser chance of going in. Make them go to a move or a spot on the floor that isn’t their preferred.

Now, these are the best shot makers in the world, so sometimes even if you force them into a tough shot they’ll still make it. That’s the game. But as a defender you can’t get frustrated by that. If you make a superstar take bad and less preferable shots and that’s what they have most of the game, you live with the results.

Brooks is among the best players in the league at doing that.

Before he brings his brand of defense to Houston and new head coach Ime Udoka, he is helping Team Canada at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The Canadians opened up group play on Friday with a 95-65 beatdown of Team France.

Brooks led with his customary aggressive defense and had a dunk on Rudy Gobert.

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