Hot take issued on ex-Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks ahead of return to Memphis

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Though he may have already squared off against his former employers twice thus far during the 2023-24 season, Friday evening will mark Dillon Brooks' first game facing the Memphis Grizzlies back in his old stomping grounds of FedEx Forum.

Following a polarizing 2022-23 campaign, one where he was an overall net negative on the offensive side of the ball and seemingly made more headlines with his words rather than his play, reports surfaced that GM Zach Kleiman and company were refusing to bring back the soon-to-be free agent "under any circumstances" while the wing felt he was being used as a scapegoat for the team's underwhelming season turnout.

As a result, Brooks was shipped off to the Houston Rockets via sign-and-trade in early July and, unsurprisingly, his polarizing final season in and departure from the 38103 has left a sour taste in the mouths of Grizzlies fans.

Now, as we approach tip-off to his return to Memphis, many are questioning what the reaction of those in attendance will be to his presence. Though a safe bet may be that the home crowd will shower the team's former forward with boos, Locked on Grizzlies host Damichael Cole made a bold claim on a recent episode of the show stating that he believes Brooks "deserves cheers."

Grizzlies reporter urges fans to cheer Dillon Brooks' return to Memphis

"I think this guy deserves cheers because he played hard every night... Dillon Brooks was going to battle... He played hard and the energy, another thing that really stood out to me, the energy of Dillon Brooks -- the swagger that he played with, the trash talking, the competitive nature. Did we not notice how that kind of carried over into this whole Grizzlies next-gen identity? Dillon Brooks was a huge part of how we came to identify the Memphis Grizzlies in the post grit and grind era... He was a huge part of that culture, that identity that the team built on the way to winning 50-plus games a couple of seasons, number two seeds, the battle with the Timberwolves, the battle with the Warriors, the battle with the Lakers and the list goes on... I think he deserves cheers."

Damichael Cole on Dillon Brooks

Though Cole undoubtably made several objectively sound points in his argument, more often than not fandoms are driven by subjective mindsets and unhindged emotions than anything else and, with the way in which the 27-year-old's tenure ended with the Grizzlies coupled with the numerous verbal shots he's fired at the franchise since his departure, it's incredibly likely that those attending Friday's matchup will heckle the veteran rather than heap praise upon him.

In other words, the focus will presumably be based off of a "what have you done for me lately" mentality and, unfortunately for him, primary examples include bear poking shenanigans during the 2023 playoffs and "player hating" comments throughout this season.

Brooks makes his return to Grind City following seven straight years of calling Memphis home. He would wrap up his Grizzlies career with averages of 14.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists and, during his final campaign, earned himself an All-Defensive Second Team honor for his efforts on the less glamorous side of the ball