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Serial Tripping: The Grayson Allen Story

UK vs. Duke in Champions Classic 2015. Photo:

Duke is not known as a team of “gentlemen”. They have had more than their fair share of travelers, whiners, and best of all, floppers; but perhaps since Laettner, there has not been a more ill conceived player than Grayson Allen. Although he has the reputation of being mild-mannered off the court, during game play, he is anything but. He encapsulates the essence of being a Duke player to perfection, exuding all the aforementioned characteristics plus one more: He’s a tripper… and a bad one at that.

Not only once, but twice in a three-week span, Allen has blatantly tripped an opposing player, sending them tumbling to the floor. The first time was vs. Louisville in Durham. He took his sweet time getting up off the floor after a dive for the ball, and in the process, tripped Raymond Spalding in the most obvious fashion. He got a semi-appropriate Flagrant 1 foul called for his childish little stunt. Most recently, Allen swept his leg backward vs. Florida State and sent their best player, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, onto the hardwood hard. Referees paid no mind to this egregious foul, allowing Allen to play the remaining seconds of the game without so much as a slap on the wrist. In both incidents, the media covering the games were too intimidated (or too much of fans) to ask Coach Krzyzewski about Allen’s behavior; however Coach K would applaud his team for things such as “great effort” and “emotion”. (Insert eye roll here.) Allen made excuses for both trips, chalking it up to physical play. (Insert whiplash inducing eye roll here.)

If Coach K’s white-washing and Allen’s cop-outs aren’t disheartening enough, the powers that be over at the Atlantic Coast Conference paid lip service to college basketball by saying they would investigate Allen’s keeping-his-feet-to-himself problems, only to issue him an underwhelming reprimand.

I’m sure that the players and coaches in the ACC and beyond are now satisfied since the conference took strong action against such dangerous and unsportsmanlike behavior. (Insert neck-breaking eye roll here.)

Now that the facts of the matter are illustrated, its time for me to sound off. Brace yourselves; its about to get real.

One of three things are wrong with Grayson Allen. As a Division 1 basketball player at an elite program, he either:

  1. Does not know sportsmanship.
  2. He does not have the self-control to practice sportsmanship.
  3. He knows sportsmanship, has self-control, but insists on throwing temper tantrums in the form of tripping.

Any of the three, at this stage, are incredibly alarming. As the leader of his team, he ought to be a pillar of fair play. He is misleading his team into believing you must play dirty in order to be tough. Newsflash: if he has to play dirty to be tough, he’s not very tough. Conversely, he is weak and has no other way to project pseudo-toughness without being a jerk. Furthermore, tripping someone is such passive-aggressive bull. It shows that he doesn’t even have the guts to stand up to someone out of frustration and earn a technical the good old fashioned way. He had to punk out and ambush an unsuspecting guy. That, my friends, is Grayson Allen.

Rec-league ball coaches demand more class from their ten-year old players. Why a Naismith Hall of Fame coach wouldn’t demand the same is more than I can fathom. After the first tripping, I would have made him run suicide drills until he threw up, and then told him to keep going as he prayed to the dear Lord above he didn’t slip and fall in his own vomit whilst sprinting back to the baseline. The thought would never enter Grayson’s mind to trip another player; and if it did the nausea would be so overwhelming, he’d change his mind quicker than a strike of lightning on a hot summer’s evening. After the second trip, he’d enjoy sitting dressed on the far-end of the bench, in the very last chair, just beyond the managers. He would clearly receive the message that if he would so much as sneeze in the direction of an opposing player, he’d be off my team… no exceptions.

For what its worth, not only do I think Coach Cal would hand down swift and forceful action the very first time, I would expect him to. Perhaps, that is the difference between Kentucky and Duke.

What is it going to take to make him stop sticking his feet where they do not belong? A young man breaking his ankle, his wrist, or worse? Is a kid going to need to have a career ending injury before appropriate action is taken? Maybe it will take a guy who doesn’t take getting tripped hard to the floor very kindly who promptly puts Allen face-to-face with the hardwood.

And if Duke fans are right, and this behavior happens all over the country and this is just a story because its at Duke, you’re dang skippy! Duke is one of the elite powerhouses of college basketball and very few join them in that company. They are held to a higher standard of, not only greatness, but of character. No one cares if Tampa Bay Tech’s point guard is throwing elbows. Duke has earned the spotlight, and they will get it… for better or for worse.

Lastly, I do not think Grayson Allen is a bad ball player, or even a bad kid. I do believe he is a terribly misguided young man who is expected to be a power wielding lead-man for a good team that was expected to be better. He’s a good point guard who has been instrumental to Duke’s success this season and I simply do not understand what he believes tripping guys adds to his game. I hate to compliment a Dukie, but I have say he’s much too talented for all this nonsense.

He must be trying get his name penned in the list of the baddest of bad boys to ever play at Duke. If that be the case, to him I would say, “Congrats, Punk. You did it.”


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