Dillon Brooks didn’t have time to break a sweat on Tuesday after he was ejected after only 3 minutes of play. The Grizzlies guard was ejected for a Flagrant foul 2 after clobbering Gary Payton II across the head on a fast break attempt.
Unfortunately for Payton he landed awkwardly and was forced to leave the game. It was later reported that Payton suffered a fractured elbow in what could be a heartbreaking end to a breakthrough season. An MRI will be needed to assess the severity of the injury.
The ‘dirty’ foul
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Klay Thompson were visibly upset with the unsportsmanlike foul on Payton.
Kerr made it clear during the first quarter interview that it was a dirty play.
Reporters watching the game were shocked by the foul, agreeing that Brooks deserved to be ejected.
ESPN’s Skip Bayless on the other hand felt the foul was fair, labelling the decision to eject Brooks “ABSURD”.
Post-game press conference
An irate Steve Kerr spoke to media after the game telling them that Dillon Brooks “broke the code”.
“I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was dirty,” Steve Kerr said after the loss. “And playoff basketball is supposed to be physical, everybody’s going to compete, everybody is going to fight for everything. But there’s a code in this league, there’s a code that players follow where you never put a guy’s season/career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in mid-air and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow.”
“This is a guy toiling the last six years trying to make it in this league, finally found a home, just playing his butt off this year,” Kerr said. “In the playoffs, this should be the time of his life and a guy comes in and whacks him across the head in mid-air.”
A clearly dejected Stephen Curry also spoke on the matter, “It was out of line..feel bad for GP, it was his time in this series..GP is tough, when you see him in pain like that you know it’s nothing light.”
Draymond Green who himself was ejected in Game 1 for a Flagrant 2 foul made it clear what he thought about the foul.
The majority of reporters expressed sadness over the play given the lengths Payton has gone to forge an NBA career. Undrafted in 2016, Payton has been cut four times in six years, spent several years playing in the G-League and even considered stepping away to take up a video coordinator role in the Warriors’ video department.
The injury is also a huge blow to the Warriors’ championship hopes. Payton has been an important spark plug this season, energizing the team with his hustle and thunderous dunks and was more often than not the best defender on the court.
Shaq & Chuck give their take
Both Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley agreed it was an unfortunate and dangerous play but didn’t believe there was any malicious intent behind it.
Shaq feels Brooks broke the code saying, “Yes he broke the code. But did he break it on purpose and try to hurt the young fella? I don’t think so.”
Charles Barkley believed Brooks didn’t break the code saying, “The code is we don’t try to hurt each other. Dillon Brooks has never proven to me that he’s a dirty player. Sometimes you hit a guy and he gets hurt and I think that was an accident.”
The Warriors head home with the series tied 1-1. They’ll look to take a series lead in Game 3 on Saturday.