West Torrance High School

Column: Grayson Allen’s tripping incidents must lead to changes in Duke’s locker room

Wake Forest and Duke had an aggressive basketball game on Jan. 28, and as always, Duke’s star forward, Grayson Allen, was behind much of the physicality and unnecessary tension.

Allen is coming off multiple tripping violations as referees have caught him red-handed too many times.

Feb. 8, 2016 — Allen was diving for the ball and came up empty. Officials watched, instead of getting up after the play and getting back on defense, Allen remained on the ground and stuck his leg out to trip Louisville’s Raymond Spalding. More noticeable was how he watched Spalding fell to the ground, and nonchalantly looked to officials raising his hands in “confusion” as if nothing happened.

Feb. 25, 2016 — Allen again tripped an opposing player, this time, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, in the final seconds of a game against Florida State. The Duke forward again stuck his leg out behind him, and made Rathan-Mayes fall to the ground. This caused a keen eye to be cast on Allen, as more and more of these incidents were occurring.

Jan. 4 — Fast forward to the 2017 NCAA basketball season, Allen, yet again, tripped another player, this time against Elon. While guarding point guard Steven Santa Ana, Allen was losing the edge as Santa Ana spun on him. The Duke forward stuck his leg out, throwing Santa Ana to the ground. Words were exchanged, except this time, Allen seemed much more emotional. He was sent to the bench by Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and had a shocking breakdown, banging a seat next to him on the bench and yelling at one of his assistant coaches. This seemed to be an odd reaction to his own intentional actions. Allen was an emotional mess, as he even began to start crying on the bench.

Coach Krzyzewski finally took action and disciplined his wild player. Krzyzewski stripped Allen of his captaincy and even suspended him for one game. There was chatter that Krzyzewski wasn’t doing enough to his own player and was called on to make a tighter punishment for the Duke guard.

In response, the world-renowned coach said, “I handle things the way I handle them. I think I’ve handled this correctly, and moving forward I will continue to handle it correctly.” He went further and said, “I don’t need to satisfy what other people think I should do. I’m a teacher and a coach, and I’m responsible for that kid.”

Allen’s latest incident was last Saturday, when he was racing for the ball. He realized he was too far behind Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, and in a despicable last move, Allen reached out and pulled on Crawford’s arm. This was after both Crawford and Allen exchanged words previously in the game after a foul call.

What made this even worse was that it caused a full scuffle between Duke and Wake Forest. Players were yelling at other players, pushing and shoving, as tensions were finally spilling on the court. Although Allen was handed another meager technical foul, just another one to add to his tally, he needs to receive proper punishment.

Players don’t just foul each other for no reason. Fouls, whether intentional, or unintentional, happen, but purposely pulling or tripping another player has no place in collegiate sports. It is a dishonest action that reveals more of bad character than superb skill. It feeds into the idea that if you can’t make it, sabotage those who are doing better than you. It’s shameful and an outright disgrace to see that in collegiate sports, players like Allen exist.

Of course, ever since Allen first got caught for tripping opponents, he’s been under a magnifying glass. Every action and decision he makes on the court will be scrutinized, and he only has himself to thank for that. The fact that his unsportsmanlike conduct still continues is proof that he will simply keep doing what he’s doing. He’ll keep utilizing the underhand tactics that get on his opponent’s nerves because they’ve been working, and he’s only recently been getting caught for it.

Allen’s behavior has potential to mess up his own collegiate basketball career and his tripping leaves other players extremely vulnerable. The way he tripped Spalding, Rathan-Mayes and Santa Ana was so low that it left each of the player’s ankles, knees, and even heads vulnerable to injury. He thankfully hasn’t injured anyone yet, but it’s easy to imagine how a simple Allen trip would lead to a career-ending injury.

Whether you feel sorry or angry about Allen’s on-court aggressive behavior, things just need to change in Duke’s locker room, and it has to start with Grayson. He needs to start playing fairly, and stop relying on sabotaging other players so he can get an advantage. If his style of play doesn’t change, the kid doesn’t deserve to continue to play collegiate sports. Let’s hope we see a change in Grayson Allen.

For more on athletes and the impactful decisions they make, keep reading “The Athlete’s Dilemma.”