Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks has earned the title of NBA’s biggest agitator. It’s a role that suits him well playing for the tenacious Grizzlies.
Brooks has a Venus Flytrap personality. His on-ball defense is revered by NBA evaluators and his pesky presence infuriates opponents and even fans.
Just ask Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell also has an opinion. Brooks knows how to get under your skin and wreak havoc.
Now, it seems Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is caught in Brooks’ proverbial trap again. In a recent interview, Brooks told ESPN how he truly felt about Green.
And he didn’t hold back.
“I don’t like Draymond at all,” he says. “I just don’t like Golden State. I don’t like anything to do with them. Draymond talks a lot. Gets away with a lot, too. His game is cool — with Golden State — but if you put him anywhere else, you’re not going to know who Draymond is. He plays with heart, plays hard, knows the ins and outs of their defense. I guess that’s why they like him over there.”
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Green laughed off the comments. He didn’t provide a response, but his on-court play suggests that this rivalry is far from over.
How did we get here? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Tempers flare in the 2022 Western Conference Semifinals
The Grizzlies burst onto the scene during the 2021 season. It was a banner year as the Grizzlies finished 56-26 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Memphis finished three games ahead of the third-seeded Warriors.
Both teams advanced to set up an intriguing matchup in the Western Conference semifinals. The series featured high-level play and plenty of trash talking. Brooks and Green traded several barbs as the Warriors advanced with a 4-2 series win.
However, there was one play that generated a lot of heat. Brooks was ejected for a Flagrant Foul 2 on Warriors guard Gary Payton II in Game 3 of the series. Brooks was suspended for one game despite expressing remorse for the injury.
“I didn’t mean for it to hurt somebody,” Brooks said after the Game 2 loss. “If I were able to take it back, I would. But that’s in the past.”
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The Warriors certainly didn’t forget. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said that “broke the code” after re-watching the foul. He said that Brooks shouldn’t have attempted to foul a fast-break layup above the shoulders.
Payton II ended up breaking his elbow and didn’t return until the NBA Finals.
The foul created a personal vendetta for the Warriors. As a result, it also set the tone for intense regular-season games this season.
The Warriors have won both games against the Grizzlies. Both teams will play two more times before the end of the season.
The first matchup came on Christmas Day and tempers flared once again. Six Warriors received technical fouls including Klay Thompson for taunting Brooks. After the game, Thompson was irked that the Grizzlies were talking about a potential dynasty.
So, he proceeded to drop the mic on the discussion.
“They were talking dynasty and all that,” Thompson said. “You can’t talk dynasty when you haven’t won before. I don’t people realize how hard that is – the commitment and sacrifice it takes. You got to sacrifice your body. I thought it was premature talk to even mention that word.
“But, they bring the best out of us and I think we do the same. Even though we don’t like them, you got to respect them because they are a threat.”
Brooks, Grizzlies embrace villain role
The Warriors and Grizzlies could be on a collision course once again. The Grizzlies are 38-24 and currently hold the second seed in the Western Conference. The Warriors sit in fifth place with a 34-30 record.
The Grizzlies are ready for any potential opponents. Brooks relishes the villain role, and it has been transmitted through the entire team. Memphis is not bashful about their extreme talent and youthful brilliance.
“I want them to be angry, off-kilter emotionally,” Brooks says. “With some guys there’s fear, 100 percent. They don’t want to talk to me or even look at me.”
It works for the Grizzlies. Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins doesn’t mind how Brooks plays his game on the court. Teammates also like having Brooks on their team instead of playing against him.
“You absolutely have to have that person,” Jenkins said. “He definitely draws a lot of attention, and it can seem very selfish and individual, but it’s not.”
The Grizzlies will host the Warriors twice this month. Golden State will travel to Memphis on March 9 and March 18. Both games could have playoff implications for both organizations.
Expect a lot of trash-talking as Brooks and Green are bound to interact on the floor. As seen before, one conversation can set the stage for the next chapter in this rivalry.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Memphis’ Dillon Brooks reignites feud with Draymond Green, Warriors