If the first time is chance, the second time is coincidence and the third time is a pattern, what does that make the fifth time? Grounds for a ban — a real one this time.
Grayson Allen once again showed he’s unable to control himself on a basketball court when, on Wednesday night in Tallahassee, he charged for a ball out of bounds as players do multiple times a game, swatted the ball like he was Antonio Brown doing hand-check drills, and then charged into Florida State assistant Dennis Gates, something that would be normal given the packed surroundings of a basketball court, but turned nefarious because Allen is the dirtiest player ever to put on a Duke uniform (condolences Christian Laettner) and seemingly can’t control any part of his emotions. When Allen went up in the air untouched, flying toward the FSU bench, he reached out his arms to brace himself for the fall but instead of grabbing onto Gates, or anyone else in the vicinity, Allen shoved his hands with anger and vigor rarely seen on TV outside of drunk altercations on The Real World.
While the first three were blatant dirty plays, the last two could be, and have been, defended by see-no-evil Duke-fan homers (meaning: all of them). This time, Allen was the victim of circumstance, you see. Had it been any other player going out of bounds, we wouldn’t have thought twice about how he tackled and shoved an opposing coach. This was an accident, a byproduct of playing a game in tight quarters. Would we have thought the worst if it’d been done by Frank Mason or Kris Jenkins? Of course not.
Hah! Keep living in la-la land, Dukies. Three things go against Allen’s case:
1. When he’s in mid-air and looking to brace his fall, Allen doesn’t just extend his arms, he doesn’t just shove them out … but he locks them while fully extended. Imagine running into something or someone. When you anticipate impact, you stick your arms out and then, as you make contact, you bring your arms back toward you, bent, to absorb the blow. Or think of it this way: If you trip and fall, are you keeping your arms straight or bending them as you reach the ground because, you know, you don’t want to break your arms. Your arms only get fully extended when you’re trying to push something or, in this case, someone.
2. Allen has demonstrated he’s never to be given the benefit of the doubt.
3. The incident happened when Duke was losing by 14 points late in the game (they would go on to fall by 16). And that, above everything else, is all you need know. It was a violent shove borne of frustration from an out-of-control player and it means one thing: Allen’s got to go.
Coach K acts like an indulgent parent when one of his players gets into trouble. And the more vocal the press is, the more defensive he becomes – hence the one-game suspension when everybody was barking for three, four or five. He does it because he knows he can get away with it and the sycophants around college basketball will forget about it because he’s a do-no-wrong, modern-day John Wooden. So since he punted with that unbelievable (even for him) one-game suspension earlier this season, it’s time for the ACC to get some stones and do what they should have done in the first place — kick Allen out of league play for an legitimate period of time. How about a month?
That’d be three games for what he should have received for the Elon kick and four games for this. (Repeat offender.) That would take him up to the Feb. 11 game vs. Clemson and would actually include a genuine punishment: missing the UNC game two days before. The only game Allen missed during his “indefinite” ban was against Virginia Tech and Duke ended up losing. (Hence the quick return, which also coincided with Krzyzewski’s departure for back surgery. GASP!) Missing the first Carolina game sends an actual message.
It won’t happen, both because the ACC is more interested in looking for its next expansion conquests and fledgling television network than daring upset Coach K. And Duke certainly can’t be relied upon for any sanction because the team is 2-2 in the ACC and discipline there is only levied when it can’t affect the bottom line.
But what about the Florida State coach, Gates, who defended Allen afterward, tweeting that he thought it was a hustle play … and actually blaming himself for not getting out of the way — as if there’s a lot of room to maneuver on a sideline filled with coaches and players (not to mention revenue-maximizing fans) way too close to the court?
That’s a stand-up, classy move by Gates and a smart one to boot. We all saw the play. We all know what happened. Why stoke the fire any more when you can take the high road and let everybody else do your bidding? (I doubt Gates’ reasoning was as Machiavellian but it wouldn’t have been a good look to call out Allen, even though he deserved it.)
Allen is the pawn here. This all comes back to a man who wasn’t even in the arena on Tuesday night. When Coach K barely benched his star after his dirty kick in December and then issued the lamest discipline since refs flagged Ezekiel Elliott for hopping into that Salvation Army kettle, he tacitly defended his player, giving off an “us against the world” vibe that emboldened Allen to change nothing about himself and continue to be an out-of-control player on the court.
Dennis Gates doesn’t care. He’s a grown man who can handle himself and has bigger things to worry about, like how to keep FSU rolling. It’s no big deal for the next guy Allen trips. That guy will simply fall and become a hero to his student body for getting jobbed by the ACC’s public enemy No. 1. The person most affected is Grayson Allen, a young man with an undeniable temper problem who is at college to learn at the feet of the greatest coach the game has ever seen, but also to develop into a mature adult who can handle the pressures of fame, money and expectations in the NBA. Duke and Mike Krzyzewski continue to fail Grayson Allen just as much as Grayson Allen continues to fail Duke.