Dillon Brooks: from booed villain to the MVP in Manila

Donatas Urbonas
Senior Staff Writer
2023-09-10 12:14

Dillon Brooks scored 39 points, the most in the FIBA World Cup medal-winning game history, and heard boos turning into the MVP chants throughout the match.

Credit: FIBA

Watching Dillon Brooks in the Philippines was an entertaining experience.

Whenever his name was mentioned, or he touched the ball, the Filipino crowd showered him with boos due to their strong love for the Los Angeles Lakers.

As the Lakers' rival, Brooks received the expected treatment from the stands. 

Player of the Game
Dillon  Brooks
Dillon Brooks
Points 39
Accuracy 12-18
Rebounds 4
Assists 5

What stood out was Dillon Brooks' playful response to the fans in the crowd, where he joined in on the booing, interacting with the audience.

However, something changed during this World Cup.

As Dillon Brooks embarked on a shooting spree, sinking five 3-pointers in the first half against the USA, the choir of boos began to fade into a hush.

When he nailed his sixth three-pointer early in the third quarter, even matching his NBA career-high, the boos transformed into chants of "MVP! MVP!"

Later, when he handled the ball, the fans stopped the booing that persisted throughout the entire competition.

Long story short, he finished the game with 39 points (7/8 3PT) in an overtime victory over USA 127-118, the most in the FIBA World Cup medal-winning game history, and heard MVP chants with the bronze medal on his neck.

That was the first World Cup medal in Canadian basketball history.

"Just happy being able to put this jersey on. I missed a couple of qualifiers and windows. But just happy to be there with my teammates and put this jersey on and represent my country for the Canadians out there," Brooks spoke in the press conference.

This marked his debut with the Canada national team, and he thoroughly cherished the experience, especially after enduring a personally demanding NBA season.

"It was so enjoyable. Obviously, the hate doesn't stop, and it keeps going. But just having my country behind me, a head coach behind me, a general manager, all these guys behind me, and trying to help me to succeed, having nothing to do with the politics, contracts, any of those things. It's hard to battle against the world in a team. So it's just a great feeling," Brooks responded.

"We got to win bronze, we continue to create the history for this country. But it doesn't stop. You have to keep going. Because they love it when you're up, like right now, but when you have a bad game, they get right back to you. You never be satisfied. You always keep working," Dillon Brooks remains focused.

In the Philippines, the once-villain became the MVP. And that's a great feeling, even though Dillon likes the persona he created in the NBA.

"They did the same thing in Jakarta. It's an amazing feeling to be recognized during the game," Brooks recalled the boos that turned into the MVP chants. "But I just never take it for granted. The work doesn't stop here. It keeps going. I'm not satisfied, neither one of us on this team."

"It's just a persona. People love it. I've grown to love myself. It's like Kobe Bryant, how he had to figure it out and create a Black Mamba, becoming a different persona when he goes on the court. I guess that's my persona. The villain," Brooks said. "Just on the court. But I'm a loving and caring guy who loves my kids, family, and teammates. Just love the world as well."

It was hard not to love Dillon Brooks in Manila.

He showcased defensive clinic in a do-or-die quarterfinal matchup, getting under Luka Doncic's skin.

While on Canada's way to the podium, Brooks became the clear No. 2 guy in the offense behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Brooks showcased his top-notch skills when needed most, starting with the crucial do-or-die game against Spain in the tournament's second phase.

His impressive 22-point performance, marked by clutch shots and crucial defensive stops, propelled Canada past Spain.

Over the last four games in the competition, he has maintained an average of 22.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting an outstanding 66.7% from beyond the arc.

"I've just been countlessly working on it. When we started working with Canada, I felt that was what I've been missing. In Toronto, they have this machine that helps with your arc.

I had that number in my head every single time with one of our coaches named Nate. Every single time I kept thinking and working at it, feeling it out, and just being relentless in shooting the basketball," Brooks explained his shooting numbers.

He maintained impressive shooting percentages, making 60% of his two-point attempts and an outstanding 58.8% from beyond the arc across eight FIBA World Cup games while attempting an average of 8.6 field goals per game.

"After every practice, I'm shooting with Lu in seven spots and competitions, just trying to get to another level and just being patient with it. It just comes out. I never wanted to force shots. My role on this team was shot selection. I think I did a pretty good job in this World Cup," Brooks said.

"You did a great job," Jordi Fernandez interrupted.

"I'm really proud of Dillon. This is how it looks when they let Dillon Brooks play. And it's just not about the defensive end. With Lu Dort, he's the best perimeter in the World Cup. But he's extremely efficient offensively," Jordi Fernandez said before looking at his bronze medal game stat line.

It said 39 points on 12 of 18 field goal shooting (7/8 3P), four rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and one steal against the USA.

"I don't think it gets better than that. Today, it was his performance. Obviously, Shai is amazing and, to me, the MVP of this World Cup. It was not a perfect game. We got to learn how to box out the free throw," Jordi joked. "But it's good to learn when you win. This team was amazing and special. It's the beginning of something that will last for a long time."

For those who may still hold hate towards him, Dillon Brooks has a message.

"I just appreciate you. From the beginning, everybody who was throwing shots on Twitter and Instagram watching me play. It just helps me get better every day. It motivates me to be better on the court for my teammates and for whatever team I play for. Just motivates me to keep going."


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