- ESPN.com NBA writer since 2010
- Covered Cleveland Cavs for seven years
- Author of two books
From Draymond Green to Donovan Mitchell to Klay Thompson to Shannon Sharpe and even a little cameo with former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, you need a scorecard to keep track of the beefs involving 27-year-old Memphis Grizzlies defender and instigator Dillon Brooks.
But when it comes to LeBron James and playoff opponents who have established themselves as defensive rivals — agitators, if you will — you need a history book.
Enter Brooks, a fearless and rugged role player who figures to have an outsize role in the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies’ first-round Western Conference series with James’ seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
“I wouldn’t mind playing LeBron in a seven-game series,” Brooks declared this week.
“The legacy is there. First time back in the playoffs; knock him out right away.”
Brooks fits the bill of many of the players who have used playoff series to annoy James over the past two decades. Based on the likes of DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, Lance Stephenson and Draymond Green, it’s a tall order to think Brooks could make an entry on the James annoyance ledger over the next two weeks. (But if Brooks does, it will probably be most entertaining.)
Here’s a walk down memory lane for opponents who have irked and gotten to James:
DeShawn Stevenson, 2008
Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan announced before the first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers — the third consecutive postseason matchup between the Eastern Conference teams — that his Wizards players aimed to be physical with James.
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