From Villain to Hero: Dillon Brooks’ Spectacular World Cup Triumph”
The Mall of Asia Arena was alive with MVP chants, an unexpected chorus for everyone’s once-favorite World Cup villain who had now led Maple Nation to a historic Bronze medal victory.
In a game filled with twists and turns, one thing remained constant – Dillon Brooks. He emerged as the top scorer with an astonishing 39 points in an enthralling contest.
To put this achievement in perspective, Brooks’s performance marked the highest point total for a player in a medal-winning game in World Cup history. He also set a new single-game scoring record for Canada, breaking a 69-year-old record held by Carl Ridd, who scored 37 points against the Philippines in 1954.
Kelly Olynyk, a teammate, lauded Brooks’ exceptional performance, saying, “He’s been under scrutiny all summer, but he’s an extraordinary player. He gives his all every single day, and he’s the kind of teammate you want fighting alongside you in the locker room. I was thrilled to see him play the way he did. He has improved with every game.”
Brooks’s fireworks from long range, with a remarkable 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, showcased his scoring prowess. His three-point shooting not only contributed to the victory but also etched his name in the history books. It was only the second time in the last three decades that a player had made 7 three-pointers in a medal-winning game, with Kevin Durant achieving the same feat in the 2010 Final in Turkey.
However, what resonated even more was the local crowd’s appreciation of this legendary performance. During the first half, Brooks’s trip to the free-throw line prompted the crowd to chant the customary “M-V-P.”
Yet this newfound adulation was a far cry from Brooks’s earlier reputation in the tournament. His notoriety, swagger, intimidating defense, and gritty style of play had drawn boos from the World Cup audience. To his credit, he not only accepted this but embraced it.
“I appreciate all of you from the start,” Brooks conveyed a message to his critics. “Those who were taking shots on Twitter or Instagram – it only fuels me to get better each day, motivating me to excel on the court for my teammates.”
Teammate Luguentz Dort described Brooks as a true “villain” on the court, but one who never shied away from the role. He praised Brooks for his hard work and the positive impact he had on the team in recent weeks.
Interestingly, Brooks had reached a point where he almost relished playing the role of a villain, drawing inspiration from the late Kobe Bryant and his Black Mamba persona.
Moreover, Brooks had already silenced some doubters with a clutch performance in a “do or die” game against Spain.
When the going got tough on that memorable Sunday, and the USA made one last push, it was Brooks who continued to shine in the final minutes of regulation. He provided an assist for an RJ Barrett three-pointer, nailed his 7th three-pointer, and added more free throws following a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander jumper.
At that moment, he was no longer “The Villain.” The crowd joined in, once again proclaiming him “M-V-P.”
“It was my second time. They did the same thing in Jakarta. It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized during the game. But you know that I never take it for granted. The work doesn’t stop here. I’m not satisfied, neither is anyone on this team,” Brooks humbly acknowledged while showing respect to his fellow Canadian teammates.
He also emphasized the importance of continuous hard work as they looked ahead to Paris 2024.
“Success is fleeting. They adore you when you’re on top, like now. But when you have an off day, they’ll be right back at it. So, you always have to keep grinding.”
What an incredible journey it has been! Paris awaits you, Dillon!