Scenario 1: You come off the bench behind two certain Hall of Famers. You have the opportunity to win a championship. You play with the players you have come to love as brothers. You relish in the love of a fanbase that has finally embraced you. You play 20 minutes a game as a defensive stopper and transition finisher.
Scenario 2: You come off the bench behind two guys who have never made an All-Star team. You definitely don’t have an opportunity to win a championship. You play with a bunch of guys you barely know. You have to fight for the love of a new fanbase. You play an undefined amount of minutes in an undefined role.
If it was you choosing between those two options, what would you have picked? Call me crazy, but I’m guessing scenario 1.
Tony Allen thought differently. He went for door number two. He was tired of being overshadowed by stars. (ESPN)
“Ultimately, it was the way [the Grizzlies] embraced me, the way they reached out to me and let it all out,” said Allen. “They let me know I was needed. In Boston, I was kind of overshadowed by those guys — Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Here’s a ball club that’s on the rise and a lot of guys can make names for themselves. It’s a coming out party for a lot of guys on this team.”
“I don’t mind embracing the [defensive] role, but there is more to my game; let’s not get that twisted,” said Allen. “Whatever I can do to win ballgames — if that’s just passing out Gatorades or flashing towels or giving somebody a high-five, I’m willing to do that.”
Yeah, TA, you were overshadowed by Pierce and the better Allen. They’re great players. And now you’ll be overshadowed by O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay — two decent ones — while you fight to make the playoffs, knowing that even if you do miraculously make it to the postseason you’ll be ousted in the first round. Do you realize how dumb your decision was, Tony? Not yet, I’m sure. But at some point it’s going to come back and slap you straight across the face. You’ll be wearing your warmup suit, watching Mayo and Gay get blown out by a true contender in front of a half-full FedEx Center, and you’ll finally realize it: That situation you had in Boston wasn’t so bad after all.
And yes, Tony, we know you can do more than embrace a defensive role. You also pile up turnovers like a madman and shoot one of the brokest jump shots in the history of the universe.
Damn it, Tony. I had learned to love you, my man. I had even learned to almost trust you on the court. And I still wish you well in Memphis. I just think you done fucked up. There’s very little in the world that compares to the bond formed by loving your teammates and succeeding with them. Why you would flush that down the toilet for a similar role in Memphis, I may never understand.