The incident involving Grayson Allen and Dillon Brooks at the end of No. 1 Oregon’s 82-68 win over No. 4 Duke has become a ‘thing’, a talking point for the people that hate Duke and Allen and Coach K to jump all over.
Which is ridiculous.
Because calling this ‘an incident’ is making too much out of something that really was nothing.
Here’s how it started: Brooks, after Duke had clearly thrown in the towel, drilled a 27-foot three with about six seconds left on the clock after head coach Dana Altman told him to shoot. He celebrated the shot with a fist pump and a yell:
There’s really nothing wrong with that. It’s not a great look for Brooks — running up the score, sportsmanship, all of that — but whatever. It’s more or less harmless, even if it does ruffle the feathers of the Blue Devils.
Where people seem to have taken umbridge here is with Allen’s reaction, and that’s mostly because the announcer said on the broadcast that Allen shoved Brooks away from him.
That’s not exactly accurate. Watch the video below and tell me what you think Allen did wrong:
Is he supposed to celebrate with Brooks? Hug him back after the dude just ended Allen’s season and, quite possibly, his Duke career? In fact, given how competitive and intense Allen is — and considering his track record in situations like this — I’d argue that this showed a bit more maturity than we’ve seen out of him this season. But since it’s Grayson Allen, and since the announcer made a much bigger deal out of this run-in than he should have, it became a ‘thing’.
If there is anyone that deserves to be criticized here, it’s probably Coach K.
After the game, he was caught on camera saying something to Brooks where it appears Brooks responds with, “my bad”. You can see the interaction here:
Brooks told SI.com that Coach K told him he’s “too good of a player to be showing off at the end.” He agreed, adding “I have to learn from those things.” In the postgame press conference, Coach K initially said that he congratulated Brooks and told him he’s a terrific player. After he was asked about Brooks’ interpretation of the conversation, he said, “I didn’t say that. You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, ‘You’re a terrific player.’ And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?”
Now, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that you should coach your own team. Even if there is some truth in what Coach K apparently said to Brooks, it probably should be Altman — and not the opposing head coach, regardless of his standing in the basketball community — that says something.
But on the other hand, would we have even noticed this if it wasn’t Coach K involved? If it was Allen that the announcer said shoved Brooks? If this was anyone other than Duke?
You know the answer to that question.
And since when do we require our athletes to be best friends? We complain about how AAU basketball and the summer camp tours have made all of these elite prospects friends from an early age, but then rip then when they show a little bit of competitiveness?
Of course Brooks is going to be fired up that he went for 22 points, six assists and five boards as the Ducks beat one of the nation’s premier programs en route to an Elite 8 that no one thought they’d get to.
And of course the Duke players and coaching staff are going to be pissed they lost and peeved that Brooks ended the game the way he ended the game.
If — and let me stress the if — anyone did anything wrong here, it was the announcer for making the interaction out to be something that it wasn’t and Coach K reprimanding an opposing player in a spot where a national television audience could witness the exchange.
Beyond that, all this kerfuffle did was take way from the fact that Oregon looked damned good on Thursday night, good enough to get to a Final Four, maybe good enough to win a national title. But instead of talking about how the Ducks are putting on for their league, we’re stuck arguing about something that is so insignificant that it shouldn’t even have been mentioned in the first place.