Dave McMenaminESPN Writer4 minute read
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James will let his game do the talking when the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against self-proclaimed bear 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 availability to the media after avoiding Brooks-related questions for about five minutes. “I’m ready to play and that’s it.”
After the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies won 103-93 in Game 2 to tie the series 1-1 against the No. 7 Lakers, Brooks, 27, took aim at James, 38, doubting the effectiveness of a 20-year-old veteran at this point in his career.
“I don’t care – he’s old. You know what I mean ? Brooks said Wednesday after watching James on the floor when he hit a 3 in the fourth quarter. “I was expecting that. I expected him to do that game 4, game 5. He wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should have said it earlier. But I’m pushing bears . I don’t don’t respect nobody until they come and give me 40.”
James said he didn’t hear Brooks’ comments until a reporter asked about them.
When asked if he’s ever been in a playoff with a result that was based on vulgar talk, James downplayed the importance of extracurricular activity.
“The game is won between the four lines,” he said. “Always has been, always will be.”
James’ teams are 10-3 against Brooks in his career. James’ highest point total in those games is 34 points, averaging 25.2 points on 52.2% shooting in 11 regular season games. Over the first two games of this series, James is averaging 24.5 points on 51.3 percent shooting and 11.5 rebounds.
Lakers reserve forward Rui Hachimura, who is only 25 himself, said Brooks’ comments showed the Grizzlies’ immaturity.
“I heard about it,” Hachimura said on Friday. “I’m not really into social media, but I’ve heard about it. Honestly, that’s all they can do. They’re a young team. They just want to talk. We don’t really care. We are going to play our game and we try to win the games.”
James has used both real and imagined trash talk to motivate himself in the past. Heading into the 2021-22 season, he began referring to himself as the washed-up king in social media posts after an ESPN poll of 10 unnamed scouts and executives failed to give him a single vote as as the best player in the NBA.
The four-time MVP and four-time champion did not refer to Brooks by name at any time during his media session.
“I mean at the end of the day there are 10 guys on the court,” James said. “There are 10 guys on the field. It’s one of the best defensive teams in the league and we have to respect that. It doesn’t matter who is wearing the Grizzlies uniform at this particular time, during this quarter, during this minute, we’ve got to respect everyone and we’ve got to run offensively.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he was confident James would be in no way shaken ahead of the Lakers’ first full-capacity home playoff game in a decade.
“LeBron has to go out and do what he’s always done,” Ham said. “Just play the right way. Everything else will take care of itself.”