Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks has been suspended for one game after striking Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell in the groin during Cleveland's 128-113 win over Memphis on Thursday night. The league announced the punishment on Friday, with Mitchell receiving a $20,00 fine for his role in the ensuing altercation.
Following the game, both Mitchell and Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff called the incident a cheap shot and questioned Brooks' character.
Brooks was going up for a layup with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter, but his attempt was altered by Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley and headed out of bounds. Mitchell was trying to save the ball, but Brooks, who was on the ground, hit him in the groin. Mitchell responded by throwing the ball off of Brooks, who was still on the ground, and this started a fight between the two teams.
"That's just who he is," Mitchell said. "We've seen it a bunch in this league with him. [He] and I have had our personal battles for years. Quite frankly, I've been busting his ass for years. Playoffs. Regular season. And the one game he does an all right job on me today, decides to do something like that.
"You know, there's no place in the game and you've gotta protect yourself at the end of the day, but this has been brewing for years, with me, with other guys in the league," Mitchell continued. "This isn't new. And tonight was just the end of it, but it's tough when you can't guard somebody and can't do something with somebody you gotta resort to that and that's what he's done to a lot of players ... this is one of those things, that's what you resort to, and that's cool, but I'm glad my guys held it down tonight and, you know, had my back throughout the whole thing."
Brooks was assessed a flagrant-2 foul, which automatically disqualified him from the game, and Mitchell was also ejected.
"That was a cheap shot in multiple ways," Bickerstaff said. "You roll a guy's ankle and then obviously whatever was next out of there, a guy should have the right to stand up for himself. I thought Donovan did that. That's one thing, I'm proud of our guys, we don't have those guys that start shit, but we got guys that don't run from shit. You have to in this league, you have to stand up for yourself. That's what he did and that's why his teammates had his back."
Things have not been going well for the Grizzlies of late. They have now lost seven of their past 10 games, and losing Brooks to a suspension would only make things more difficult for them. Brooks will be a free agent after the season, and incidents like this aren't going to help convince the Grizzlies to commit to him with a long-term contract. Something needs to change in Memphis if the Grizzlies are going to get back on track this season.