LeBron James and Dillon Brooks aren’t backing down from one another.
The two had an old-school showdown during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game between the Lakers and Rockets — a 128-94 Houston win — that harkened back to 1990s basketball.
James and Brooks have a history dating back to last season’s first-round playoff series when Brooks was playing for the Grizzlies.
During the Wednesday night battle, James used his strength to bully his way to the basket in the first quarter against some very tight defense by Brooks.
On the following possession, James attempted to do it again but had the ball stripped from him by Brooks, who emphatically celebrated the play.
In a video that was captured during pregame warmups, Brooks appeared to be staring down the Lakers side of the court, perhaps at James, trying to intimidate the opposition.
At another point during the game, a video showed Brooks and James standing toe-to-toe with one another and jawing back and forth.
Brooks’ feud with James can be traced back to last season when the then-Grizzlies forward called the NBA superstar “old” and struck him in the groin during Game 3 of the first-round series.
“I poke bears,” Brooks said to reporters in April. “I don’t respect no one until they come and give me 40.”
And going into Wednesday’s game, Brooks told reporters he was “ready to lock [James] up.”
“He’s shooting the ball well. He’s been playing well. So I’m just there to make him tired, make him get into that fourth quarter early,” Brooks said.
James tried to keep his head above water in terms of feeding the rivalry ahead of Wednesday night.
The NBA superstar said going into the game that Brooks deserved the contract that he received — four years and $80 million — from the Rockets after the Grizzlies did not re-sign him.
“Every player that is rewarded with a contract is rewarded for a reason, and they’re worthy of the contract they get,” James told reporters during Wednesday’s shootaround. “I think in his case, he was worthy of the contract that he got.
“He’s put in the work since he came out of Oregon, and that’s what Houston found value in him and he’s here.”
James finished the night with 18 points while Brooks ended his night with five points and four rebounds in 25 minutes.