Grayson Allen- Passion Has Its Price

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By JimMcilvaine
Dec. 23, 2016

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words. As you wade through images of Grayson Allen, you see a lot of passion for the game of basketball and the competition involved. However, that passion can be a double-edged sword. Players who have a passion for the game or competition or both can lift your team up and carry it beyond where most would imagine possible. However, that passion can also lead to issues when it isn't properly-channeled and emotions get the best of someone.

That's clearly been the case with Grayson Allen on multiple occasions, but line up every college coach in the country and they'll tell you they'd rather take a kid who cares and makes mistakes from time to time, than a gifted kid with no heart, who may or may not bring effort, hustle and intensity on a given night. I don't know Grayson Allen and I've never really had extended conversations with Coach Krzyzewski. I do have as much respect for him as I do for any coach in the college game, even if I still like to root against his team and see Duke lose.

99% of the people who have voiced their opinion in the matter of Grayson Allen and how Coach K has handled it don't know either party, have limited, if any personal experience in competitive sports and many are speaking out on this situation just for the sake of speaking out- it's their job or they desperately want to be a part of the conversation, so they'll say something to get your attention. When the latest incident first happened, some in the press wanted Coach K to take immediate action. When he didn't acquiesce to that pressure, it fueled fake outrage from people who then went after Coach K for being too soft on Allen, like they have any inkling of the nature of the relationship between the two and demanded the conference step in and take action.

It's as if Coach K isn't the most successful college basketball coach and leader of young men in the history of the game and he hasn't forgotten more about the game and how to mold and shape young men, than these critics could ever hope to know. He is the coach who wins championships, graduates players and doesn't have NCAA investigators constantly buzzing around his program. In further comments today, Coach K framed this situation as "manageable" and something that can be handled relatively-easily and he's right.

Athlete or not, you can't get into Duke if you're an idiot, but that doesn't mean Duke students (and student-athletes) are immune from doing idiotic things from time to time. They're learning how to navigate their way through life, just like kids at other colleges all over the country and they're going to make some mistakes along the way. I'm not a psychologist and anyone who isn't and still attempts to psychoanalyze Allen's behavior or suggests treatment, is wasting their breath/keystrokes. This isn't an issue so daunting in it's scale that any reasonable person would look at Grayson Allen and say he's a lost cause and won't be able to figure out how to channel his energy in a positive way, overcome this and move forward.

A certain amount of credit should be given to Allen for staying in school for at least one more year than most draft experts felt was necessary. Many projected Allen as a first-round pick if he left after last year, but to his credit, Allen may have identified a need for more personal growth and stuck around for at least another season, another school year and more grooming with the alpha coach of college hoops. If anything, this incident proves Allen made the right choice to stay in school.

That decision did bring a certain amount of pressure along with it. Allen's coaches can tell him to ignore those distractions, but human nature will make Allen spend at least some time questioning whether he made the right decision to stay in school or is just hurting his draft stock by giving scouts more time to evaluate him. The injuries he's experienced early in the season may only add to that frustration, but that's all part of the learning process and basketball people understand that, even if the talking heads don't have a clue.

So Allen already apologized, accepted responsibility for his actions and acknowledged that although he broke no laws, he did bring unfavorable attention on himself, his team and Duke University. In less than 24 hours, Coach K announced those actions warranted an open-ended suspension that for now, is indefinite. No one disputes what happened. Anyone watching TV the next day saw replay after replay...after replay. Allen's teammates aren't boycotting the rest of their season or demanding the suspension be lifted until due process is followed.

If Coach K can get through to his star player, they'll use this as a learning opportunity and something positive will come from it. Meanwhile, just down Tobacco Road, there are more than a few fans of another ACC school, who wished their school's biggest problem was a guy who can't stop tripping opponents.