Dillon Brooks' debut for the Rockets lasted 4:33 before the infamous Canadian defender landed himself an ejection. Brooks was given a Flagrant 2 for a groin strike on Pacers center Daniel Theis and tossed from the game. However, Brooks defended himself to reporters after the game. "I tried to navigate a screen. I might have tapped him below the waist, but he got right back up, I don't know. It's weird that every time it happens to me, I get picked on. I guess it's part of reputation."
Brooks signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Rockets after the Grizzlies let him walk in free agency. While a well-regarded defender, Brooks has been labeled a "dirty player" for much of his career. This was epitomized during the first round of the playoffs last season when Brooks went all-in on beefing with LeBron. That included a groin strike that saw Brooks ejected. However, Brooks' poor performance during the series led people to argue that Brooks focused too much on the beef and not enough on the game.
High Expectations For Brooks
While the Rockets are not expected to be a contender this season, Brooks has been pegged as their veteran defensive leader. Furthermore, an impressive offseason has only heightened the expectations for him. Brooks was part of Canada's FIBA World Cup roster. Canada took bronze ahead of the United States. Brooks was widely praised for several dominant performances, including against the US in the bronze medal match.
However, it appears that Brooks is yet to change his domestic perception. "For a flagrant 2 foul like that, you got to know if a person is doing it on purpose or intention. That's really going at who I am as a person. That ref, Mitch, that just shows that he just doesn't know who I am as a person. He's just going off what's been said," Brooks said. "We love his aggressiveness and physicality. But reputations carry in the NBA, and people will look for certain things. You got to monitor that better," added head coach Ime Udoka.