There are star players who can engineer a fluid offense, exhibit next-level court vision and blow by defenders with elite ball-handling skills and footwork. And then there are those who do all the dirty work and engage in some old-fashioned mental warfare. Most championship teams need that extra layer of grit to get them over the top. However, when Dillon Brooks antagonized LeBron James in the playoffs and his Memphis Grizzlies were eliminated, few were singing his praises.
Fans perceived his tactics to be a source of motivation for James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Brooks was deemed as a mere nuisance and even a liability. NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady did not see the harm in antagonizing the all-time great, though. In fact, he believes it is necessary for Brooks and other players of his ilk.
“If he doesn’t do some of the things that he did last year going at LeBron, who was the league’s best player, we’re not talking about Dillon Brooks bro,” McGrady told the Scoop B Radio Podcast with host, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson. “He’s made a name for himself. Whether it's good or bad, people are talking about him and in essence, that man just signed an $80 million dollar contract! So whatever he did, it worked for him. Good for him!”
The “any publicity is good publicity” argument seems better suited for the reality television or professional wrestling industries. Though, the lines between entertainment and sports can sometimes be blurred these days, so perhaps this line of thinking was bound to creep its way into the basketball world.
A player always has to be worth the trouble they bring. Dennis Rodman was arguably the heart and soul of the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons and a crucial enforcer for a Chicago Bulls' three-peat. Draymond Green gives the Golden State Warriors' crucial balance. Dillon brooks has yet to boast any comparable accolades and is coming off possibly the worst offensive season of his career.
That being said, the Houston Rockets clearly value his intensity a whole lot. It is unknown whether the fearless mentality Dillon Brooks displayed towards LeBron James sealed the deal, but it makes sense for a young team to add a veteran tone-setter.
Maybe having a high-motor and being outspoken can actually prove to be a marketable skill. If so, there are many other players more than happy to “poke the bear” for an $80 million contract.