Over the years, I’ve insulted Tony Allen in every way possible. Verbally, in writing, mocking imitations, the whole nine. Now, after he could have possibly played his last regular season game as a Celtic, I’m here to say: Tony, you’ve grown up. Thank you, and congratulations.
A. Sherrod Blakely wrote a nice piece about Allen, who has apparently grown up off the court as well as on it.
“People don’t know how far Tony has come,” said ex-Celtic Will Bynum, a fellow Chicago native and childhood friend of Allen who now plays for the Detroit Pistons. “He’s grown up so much; not just as a player, but as a person.” [...]
Bynum and Allen played together at Crane Tech in Chicago, a union that came about in large part because of their childhood friendship.
“Tony wasn’t going to school. He was in the streets. It was kind of rough for Tony,” Bynum said.
But when he was on the basketball court, that was a different story.
Although Allen was never a great jump shooter, he was good enough to where you had to respect his perimeter game. And if you defended him too closely, he could blow past you and finish around the basket.
“I told him, ‘You should play ball,’ ” Bynum recalled. ” ‘Why you wasting your time out here on the streets when you’re one of the top athletes in the city?’ ”
Soon after, Allen transferred to Crane Tech and starred with Bynum.
After spending two seasons at two separate junior colleges, Allen enrolled at Oklahoma State, where he went on to become the Big 12 Player of the Year as a senior in 2004. He became the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 points in just two seasons.
Your first reaction to that quote, I’m sure, was, “Wait, Will Bynum is an ex-Celtic?” Yes, he was, briefly in 2005, but was cut before the regular season began.
But the real story here is that Tony Allen has become a trusted member of the Celtics. Tony Allen, the man you wouldn’t trust with the basketball even when he was wide open on the fast break, has grown up. On the hardwood, and off it. It’s been nice to see, so nice that I have to do something I rarely ever do: I have to praise Tony Allen.
Tony, you surprised us all with a very good regular season, and I’m proud of you. I really am. You have earned kind words.
Just don’t relapse in the playoffs, please.