It has been almost precisely half a year since Dillon Brooks, the former Memphis Grizzlies defensive standout, made the audacious decision to “poke the bear” during their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The bear, in this case, was none other than LeBron James, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in history.
We all remember how that episode played out.
At the time, LeBron James chose to take the high road and refrained from getting entangled in Brooks’ provocations. He left fans, the media, and the Grizzlies with a succinct message:
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” James declared ahead of Game 3. “Tomorrow’s going to be a great game. I’m not here for nonsense. I’m ready to play, and that’s it.” The Lakers proceeded to win three of the following four games, including a resounding 40-point victory in the series-clinching game, propelling them to the Western Conference semifinals and sending the Grizzlies packing.
Subsequently, James and the Lakers encountered similar criticism during the conference finals against the Denver Nuggets. Denver’s head coach, Michael Malone, seized several opportunities to imply media bias favoring the glamorous Los Angeles team. After the Nuggets completed a sweep of the Lakers, Malone made a playful reference to LeBron, who had hinted at retirement following the playoff defeat.
“Speaking of the Lakers, I just want you guys to know this is breaking news,” Malone quipped. “I’m thinking about retiring. Only kidding, only kidding.”
In response, LeBron James seemingly addressed Malone in an Instagram post, without mentioning the championship-winning coach by name: “I’ve been in Europe for the past few weeks, minding my own business, and I hear that I’ve been on your mind that much, huh??? Well, I guess I can see why. But wave the flag on these detractors!! Let’s make being a player cool again because the negativity is at an all-time high. Enjoy your moment, but remember, I am the sun. I shine forever!”