The C’s are squaring off with the Grizz tonight, a team that has been known in recent years as a hard-nosed, tough team, who can really D up your best guys. One of the key pieces of this team over the last half-decade plus has been former Celtic Tony Allen. Before you ask, I am largely ignoring the fact that he now plays for the Pelicans, as I’m trying desperately to make a link here. But do you remember the month when Tony Allen was legit the “Next Big Thing” in the NBA???
In December 2006, the pre-Garnett Celtics were hoping to sneak into the playoffs, led by their lone star Paul Pierce. On the evening of December 15th, some pieces seemed to start to fit together. Pierce (38-8-9), Al Jefferson (28-10-1) and Allen (30-8-3, 3 steals) combined to defeat the Nuggets 119-114, the 4th win in a 5 game win streak.
Things looked up as Tony Allen went on a huge run after that. Over the next 13 games, the 3rd year, athletic wing went on to average 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game. He was getting buzz across the league as a star in the making, displaying a never-before-seen offensive repertoire, getting to the hoop at will, and knocking down his share of J’s. Think, 3 weeks worth of Jaylen Brown’s best games.
Paul Pierce, unfortunately was injured on Dec 20th and ultimately missed the better part of two months, but at the time, Allen and Jefferson were carrying the team in his absence, and when Pierce came back, surely, the 3 would take the team into the playoffs and be a tough out for the Pistons or Cavs.
And then, on Jan 10th, 2017, this happened:
At the time, this was a disaster for C’s fans. We knew nothing of the future and the best hope was for Pierce and Wally Szerbiak to combine forces with the up and coming superstars Jefferson and Allen, to eventually lead the Green back to title contention.
As it turns out, the Allen injury- dunking after a whistle and MISSED THE DUNK, mind you- was the catalyst sending that team down the shitter.
They ended up 24-58, landing them the 5th overall pick which was ultimately traded for Ray Allen, which enticed Garnett to come, yada, yada, yada….title #17.
So, basically, Tony Allen attempting a stupid, post-whistle, tomahawk dunk was what built the “Big 3 2.0”, brought Banner 17 to Boston, led to a 3-5 year run on top of the league, resulted in the Nets trade which brought Kyrie to Boston and ultimately puts the team where they are today.
Allen, in his own rite, has ended up having a great career, and was around for title #17. But beyond that, we as Celtics fans owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Allen, and in his honor, I remember the 26 days during which he was the “Next Big Thing”.