I called this during 2015’s Final Four, as I was sitting in Lucas Oil Stadium watching the National Championship Game in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was Allen’s eight consecutive points that jump-started a second half comeback that carried Duke to its fifth National Championship. It began with a three-pointer to cut the Blue Devils’ deficit to six with 12:52 to play and included a steal, three free throws without a miss, and drive after drive attacking Badgers defenders that towered over him, none more defining than the and-one layup he scored with 12:10 remaining over 6’9” Sam Dekker that Allen punctuated with a pounding of his chest.
It was at this point I knew that Grayson Allen had become Duke’s newest villain. The classic Duke villain has become part of their brand and identity. It started with Christian Laettner, was passed down to J.J. Redick, and now Allen has become Duke’s guy.
And now, in true villain form, Allen has become one of America’s most controversial sports figures. He recently returned from a 1 game suspension for tripping players, and seems to have a tough time managing his emotions. The media has given us their opinion, shirts have been made, and Twitter has gone in overload mode with everybody criticizing Allen’s every move. It was discussed so much, Allen became America’s most hated sports figure.
But that is exactly what makes Grayson Allen so great. Watching basketball every night gets boring, and a player like Allen brings another dimension to each game. Villains have played a big role in sports history. Take a look at Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee, or Lebron James after “The Decision”, Roger Goodell. All of these people bring something to the game that isn’t ordinarily there, and that makes everything worth watching.
And, I wouldn’t be surprised if Duke and Grayson Allen make another magical Duke run in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. And all along the way, Allen will be hearing the boo’s and chants that will bring out the inner beast in him. And, when we finally thought the villain was beat, he will burry the dagger 3 pointer to give Duke the victory.
Enjoy the saga of Grayson Allen….I do! Through the tripping, the tantrums, and all of the other antics he brings to the table, it makes for a better story. And after all, sports is simply one big drama. In 2015 I knew Grayson would become Duke’s newest villain, and I am glad he did.
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