Is Duke star Grayson Allen just trolling us now?
Because this is getting ridiculous. College basketball’s most notorious villain either can’t stop, or won’t stop, or we’re all going crazy.
Allen’s “indefinite suspension” for tripping opponents over and over again was cut laughably short last week after lasting just one game, which Duke lost. Allen has played in three contests since returning — and in two of those he’s gotten tangled up in plays that look mighty suspect for someone with his record.
As much as fans complain and criticize, sports villains are fun. They’re an essential part of the mythological landscape that we construct around silly games and then populate with heroes, antiheroes and bad guys.
Allen also fits a long Blue Devils tradition: The talented, petulant, sneering, clean-cut star who’s loathed by college hoops fans beyond the Duke campus. He holds a torch passed down by Christian Laettner, Steve Wojciechowski, J.J. Redick, Greg Paulus and so many others before him.
That’s why Allen is under a microscope now — he took the previous Duke model of insufferableness, then added an element of violence toward opponents like salt bae seasoning a steak.
Allen’s second game back from his abbreviated suspension for repeated tripping came Saturday against Boston College. Late in the first half, a Boston College player set a screen on Allen — whose left leg then sprung upward in a movement that LOOKED SUSPICIOUSLY LIKE AN ATTEMPTED TRIP OR KICK TO THE NADS.
The Atlantic Coast Conference subsequently released a statement saying “there is nothing conclusive that can be determined” about whether Allen indeed attempted yet another cheap shot. But, before we move on to Allen’s second suspect encounter of the week, why don’t you review the Boston College video for yourself?
Like we said: Mighty suspect. Now on to the next one.
Wednesday night against Florida State, Allen chased after a loose ball. He tumbled into the Florida State bench, then appeared to shove Seminoles assistance coach Dennis Gates before both collapsed into a pile of chairs.
Again: Suspect. Also again: Impossible to say for sure that it was a dirty play, as opposed to an inadvertent collision.
Gates posted a statement to Twitter early Thursday in which he absolved Allen of any sin, said the collision was accidental and even credited the Duke guard for a “great hustle play.”
But … hmmmm … I mean … again, take a look for yourself. It’s not so cut-and-dried.
So, back to our original question. Is Grayson Allen just trolling at this point? Is he trying to gaslight us into questioning our own sanity? Did he just happen to get entangled in two dubious encounters right after being suspended for encounters that exceeded even the forgiving bounds of dubiousness? Or is he just that dirty of a player?
Either way, the internet’s amateur gumshoes will be tracking Allen’s next suspicious moment of contact with gusto and dedication. He’s earned that scrutiny. And either way, it’s good drama as long as no one gets hurt.
We sports fans need our heroes. But we need our villains too — and Allen fills that role better than Marlon Brando played Vito Corleone.