I’ve said some really harsh things about Tony Allen over the years. If his mother reads this blog, I apologize profusely to her for having to read some of the things I’ve written about her son. But I know she doesn’t… if she had, I’d probably be sitting in a ditch somewhere, with my pulse long gone.
No matter what I’ve written about Allen in the past, he is handling his latest demotion exactly like a true professional. Especially this year, a contract year for T.A., it must kill him to see the walking remains of Michael Finley take his spot in the rotation. But, if you believe what he says — and I do, 100% — he’s keeping the perfect mentality despite the setback of being replaced in the lineup. (Boston Herald)
“It’s evident what’s happening, so all I can do is be a teammate and cheer my teammates on and not be a cancer to the team,” Allen said. “Some people might think that’s what would happen, but once I pledge to say that I’m all in, I’m all in. I’m a loyal guy.
“So if this is what they feel is best for the team, I’m down with it. Ain’t no complaint. At this point, it is what it is. All I can do is sit back and continue to cheer – and stay ready. You never know. Anything can happen.”
Looking back on Allen’s years with Boston, I can’t think of a single time his behavior has been a problem for Doc Rivers. Unless I’m forgetting something — which is certainly possible — Allen has never been a headache for the coaching staff (his play notwithstanding). For all his shortcomings on the court, Allen has been a model teammate off it.
Despite discussing his affinity for Boston and the Celtics (“I like Boston. I just want to help this team as much as I can.”), Allen seems like a player who has never forgiven his untimely injury in 2007, when he was playing the best basketball of his career. When asked whether the Tony Allen we saw for that brief stretch of basketball was gone, he responded:
“No, he’s not gone,” Allen said. “He never went nowhere. That was a freak injury. . . . I hate looking back on that, but, hey, I know that’s where I can be, and I’m working hard to get back to that.”
Listening to Allen, he believes his quality of play rests entirely on his health and consistency.
“I’ve been hit with a few bad injuries, but if I take those injuries away I think I can be probably one of the top defenders in this league. I think I can be effective on both ends of the court. I’ve just got to stay healthy, and that’s my biggest key.[...]
“If I can just show this league that I’m healthy, I’m ready, I’m pretty sure somebody will have that interest in me. All I’ve got to do is build on consistency.”
I’m not so sure it’s all about health and consistency. It’s also about learning how to play basketball the right way. Allen has a tendency to make the worst possible decision, at the worst possible time. His blunders haven’t been nearly as severe this season, giving me hope that even an old dog can learn new tricks.
But I’m not sure he’ll ever be a consistently good player on a good team. If you put him on a bad team, Allen can accumulate good numbers. If the Celtics had traded Allen, rather than Bill Walker, to the Knicks, I’d wager that Allen would be posting some good box score lines.
That 2007 season was a great indication of Allen’s value to a bad team. When his turnovers can’t cost his team big games, and he can handle the ball more often (as he had to do with Paul Pierce injured that year), Allen can be a productive player. He’s a good slasher, a solid finisher, and a pesky defender. He really does a lot of good things on the court, only to be overshadowed by his brain farts.
Those brain farts are the main reason why he, and not Finley, is now the odd man out. Nonetheless, Allen wants to maintain a team-first mindset and show the Celtics he enjoys wearing Green.
“My main thing now is just getting this organization to like me, continue to believe in me. I want to let them know I’m happy to be here. Everything else will take care of itself. I’ve been in this situation before. We’ll see how it goes.”
Whatever you think of Tony Allen’s game, you have to admire his attitude.