By: Allan Erickson
By now, most of you know that Grayson Allen is the Aqib Talib of collegiate sports (google Talib poking a player in the eye, and yanking off Michael Crabtree’s gold chain). Allen has clawed, travelled, and tripped his way into most American households, and become the easiest player to hate in all of college basketball. Back on December 21, 2016, Allen committed his third blatant trip, this time against Elon; and was subsequently suspended “indefinitely” by coach K. At this point, we all were thinking, “Good for you, coach K. You need to make sure he knows that isn’t going to fly on such an elite collegiate program with such prestige and honor.” Little did we know that the “indefinite” suspension would last a measly game. In this case, the Cleveland Browns went Indefinite-15 this year. Indefinite wins, and 15 losses, sounds like a solid season, doesn’t it?
Allen was suspended one game, which Duke lost by 14 points, but trailed by more than twenty late in the second half. Allen’s quick comeback isn’t something we can blame on him; however it is a rare moment in an illustrious career, that us sportswriters can take a jab at the great Coach K. He has now made his statement, not the good kind, either. Instead of suspending Allen for an extended period, and trying to send the message that his childish behavior will not be tolerated, he sent the message that winning games is more important than his players being quality human beings.
I’ve spoken to many Duke fans about this, and they all seem to agree with my argument. This suspension was far too lenient for someone with a proven track record. The first time the tripping occurred, us UNC faithful threw shade at Allen. Called him classless, said it was a punk move, but that was the extent. The next time it happened (see photo above,) I started to feel like there may be something wrong with this young man, on a mental level. Nobody likes to lose, but when you begin to throw temper tantrums similar to that of a three year old, there’s a problem. When you’re a sophomore in college, playing a grown-man’s game, establishing yourself as one of the best players in the country and acting like this, then your mental psyche needs to be evaluated. Apparently after the third trip, coach K had seen enough… For a game…
Before any of you stop reading this article, blast me for being biased, or scroll down to comment your rebuttal and defend your savior, Mike Krzyzewski, please try to understand something. I am a proud UNC graduate, and lifelong fan; however my amount of respect for Coach K and the program he’s built with Duke has never been affected by one action. I’ve always hated Duke. Scheyer, Reddick, Sheldon Williams, Jeff Capel, Greg Paulus, Jabari Parker, yes, Christian Laettner, you name them, if they played for Duke, I don’t like them. However I’ve always respected the Duke greats. Needless to say, after this stunt, I’ve lost what little respect I had left for Grayson Allen, but this even puts a damper on how I feel about Coach K.
The legendary Dean Smith once said, “You should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do it.” Suspending Allen was the right call by Coach K; however it is obvious that he took it upon himself to suspend Grayson, not to do the right thing, or to set a precedent, but to avoid a drastic punishment. Coach K suspended him so the ACC or NCAA wouldn’t come down on the player, and Allen could be back in his lineup as soon as possible. The hallmark of Dean Smith’s stamp on college basketball, specifically as the Tar Heel head coach, is genuinely caring for his players well-being on and off the court. A caring that lasts years after their eligibility to play for UNC ends. Coach K is showing the polar opposite. He’s showing that it doesn’t matter to him what’s happening in Grayson Allen’s mind to cause him to show out like a flatulent child. He only cares about one thing, getting him back on the court and adding to the win totals.
I’m not very fond of the new wave sports, especially pertaining to the youth. You know, where the team that won the tournament is presented with the same trophy as the team that finished dead last? Not a fan. I have been raised with a burning desire to win at everything I do. However, my dad also taught me that, win or lose, there’s a certain way you need to carry yourself. Up until last night, I had the utmost respect for Mike Krzyzewski. I honestly believed he was one of the last collegiate coaches to focus on making athletes better players, but also better people, in route to whatever their futures may hold. That being said, I believe that coach K just committed one of the worst errors in judgment of all-time.
This situation with Grayson Allen was a catastrophe. With all eyes on him since his first incident, it’s amazing that coach K allowed this to happen another time. The fact that it happened for a THIRD time, deserves a heavy punishment from someone (calling ACC or NCAA to take action). Coach K looked as though he was going to take the high road and handle this situation in house. Well, he didn’t. Grayson Allen sat out one game (14 days, due to the semester break and holidays). Coach K needed to treat this like an addiction. You wouldn’t send an alcoholic to rehab for 2 weeks and trust they’ve turned their life around for the better. Like those who suffer with alcoholism, or addiction, Grayson Allen has a sickness. Something in his head tells him to trip opponents when they’re getting the better of him. One game on the bench is not going to change his mentality; but it’s no longer his fault. It’s time we blame the man in charge of allowing these actions to continuously occur. Look in the mirror, Coach K; do you like what you see? Winning is important, but doing it with class, and making sure no player is embarrassing the fine institution that you represent every time you take that floor, is just as important.