I don’t know what you thought of Dillon Brooks when he was playing at the University of Oregon, but he’s officially jumped the shark in the NBA playoffs.
After Game 2 of the Lakers-Grizzlies series last week, Brooks trashed LeBron James, calling him “old.” Brooks went on to say, “I poke bears, I don’t respect someone until they give me 40.”
The Lakers responded in Game 3 on Saturday by jumping out to a 35-9 lead, matching the largest first-quarter margin in NBA playoffs history. It was also the lowest-scoring quarter for any team this season. Brooks was later ejected for a low blow while trying to guard the 38-year-old James.
Had enough of Brooks?
His tough-guy act has devolved into an embarrassment. “Dillon the Villain” is currently projecting some serious WWE energy. He’s turned himself into a caricature of an NBA enforcer and looks like the least self-aware player in the league.
“The media making me a villain, the fans making me a villain, that just creates another persona on me,” Brooks said after the ejection.
He’s always in character, isn’t he?
Remember when then-Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled Brooks aside in the handshake line after losing to Oregon in the 2016 NCAA Tournament? Coach K lectured the UO star on respect and late-game sportsmanship.
“You’re too good of a player to do that,” Krzyzewski told Brooks.
Brooks pretended to take the advice.
The irony is that Brooks really isn’t “too good of a player” in the NBA. ESPN’s Doris Burke captured his contributions beautifully during the Game 3 broadcast when she pulled out the scalpel during her assessment of Brooks.
“He does not bring elite athleticism to the game,” Burke said on air. “He, obviously, does not bring elite shooting. He’s on the floor to do one thing: guard the toughest guy every single night. It’s a thankless job, it’s hard job and he embraces it.”
I just wish he’d do his job without embarrassing himself and his former university.
A few other things for your Monday:
• Colorado wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig had a monster spring game, catching three passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. A day later, he thanked the coaching staff in a social media post and jumped in the transfer portal.
• Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders was not pleased with the Lemonious-Craig defection. In a TikTok post on Sunday night, the QB encouraged his followers to ask the receiver why he’s leaving Colorado.
Said Sanders: “It’s a crooked world, nowadays.”
A day later, Sanders later backed off the comments made live on TikTok, and Tweeted: “Why would I get mad at him for doing what’s best for him. I be playing around on live.”
• It looks to me like Lemonious-Craig is simply taking advantage of the same transfer-portal system that Colorado is using to build its roster. Also, I can’t really blame the receiver for capitalizing on the ESPN broadcast that allowed him to showcase his talent.
• Colorado linebacker Shakaun Bowser also entered the transfer portal after the spring game. So did DB Tyrin Taylor, a 10-game starter for the Buffaloes last season, along with receiver Chase Sowell, cornerback Jason Oliver and offensive lineman Jackson Anderson. Remember, the Colorado coaching staff hinted it might add as many as 25 transfers before the spring April 30 window closes.
• Only 21 scholarship players from last season remain on Colorado’s roster, as of 3:23 p.m. PT on Monday.
• Washington State coach Jake Dickert told me recently that he is not a fan of the spring transfer-portal window (April 15-30). He thinks transfers should be limited to one extended window, immediately after the end of the regular season in December and January.
Said Dickert: “I think it’s ridiculous to be honest with you. I’m not against the portal. I just think, you go through spring ball, you start to set your teams, your depth, your roster, your special teams and then heck every one of us around the country can lose a whole position group.”
• Georgia transfer Bear Alexander is headed to USC. It’s a huge transfer-portal win for coach Lincoln Riley. Alexander, a 6-foot-3 and 310 pound defensive lineman, picked the Trojans over Colorado, Texas, Oregon, Miami, and Penn State.
• Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes remains in stable condition in a Fresno, Calif. hospital. Barnes had what appears to be a heart-related incident on Saturday. OSU provided an update late on Sunday evening saying the AD had shown improvements and was communicating with his family. Count me among those hoping the guy gets well.
• OSU’s spring game was a success. Good crowd. Some fun moments. The photo gallery we posted at JohnCanzano.com is a treat. But I left thinking about freshman quarterback Aidan Chiles. I wrote a column about the 17-year-old and what feels like a shifting dynamic in the QB room.
• I’m efforting Washington Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer on the statewide radio show this week. I’ve had DeBoer on a couple of times before. Always great talks. We all know the Huskies passing game is lethal, but I want to get his thoughts on the UW run game and defense.
• Brandon Rose looked more than competent at quarterback in Utah’s spring game. Cam Rising, the team captain and two-time Pac-12 champion, may or may not be ready (knee surgery) for the Utes’ season opener vs. Florida.
I don’t make a habit of betting against Rising, but I was interested to see who would take the early lead in the back-up QB race between Bryson Barnes, Nate Johnson and Rose. Right now, most agree it looks like Rose.
• Oregon’s spring game is scheduled for Saturday at Autzen Stadium. It will start at 1 p.m. and admission is free. The game will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Network. I’ll have two photographers on the scene, shooting a gallery that we’ll post in real time so make sure you’re subscribed.
• Don’t know about you, but I’m eager to see the Ducks defense fly around in the spring game. I’ve wondered for a while about the identity on that side of the ball.
• I looked back at last year’s UO spring game and got a chuckle. The questions in the lead-in to that event were about the quarterback position. Who would start? Transfer Bo Nix? Or Ty Thompson? Or Jay Butterfield? One year later, no question there. It’s Nix’s job and Butterfield is now at San Jose State.
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I'm not a fan of today's media, whether it's sports journalism, current affairs, business, almost all the coverage is heavily biased and lacking depth and substance. That puts me in a group of about 85% of Americans who share the same opinion. However, for Brooks to blame the media for his current reputation is preposterous. He's brought all his problems upon himself, including his current image as a loudmouth, dirty player who makes up for his lack of elite talent with silly, immature controversies.
He needs to grow up before he can no longer find work in the NBA. Owners, GMs and head coaches do have alternatives.
Ahhh, the Transfer Portal...
I must confess that I've completely flipped my sentiments regarding freedoms, rights, and the monetizing for CFB players. Why? I've realized after 50+ years of being entertained by these young men, they pay an awful price of lifelong bodily damage, even death, for my pleasure. We fans created this spectacle and have used their skills as vicarious honor without sacrifice for basically the price of a ticket. The arena gladiator? He gets our adulations, but shoulders the risk...a big one. I recently read an SI piece describing 5 LB'ers on USC's '89 roster now dead from CTE. Five! The latest survey shows CTE in 92% of deceased NFL players. The better you get, the greater your consequence. Transfer Portal? So what. Let them have all they deserve.