CHICAGO – Grayson Allen will have to accept the boos in Chicago forever. He earned those with that Flagrant 2, left block, right swipe foul against the Bulls’ Alex Caruso back in January that drew a one-game suspension as well as the ire of Caruso and Bulls coach Billy Donovan.
But what’s interesting is this: how will Allen handle the good-natured booing … from his own team? Possibly for the rest of the playoffs?
Thoroughly impressed at Allen’s dominance in Chicago over the weekend in Games 3 and 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, several of the Bucks have taken to booing Grayson themselves, in a teasing nature.
It really started in Game 3 a few days ago and the boos continue to follow Allen everywhere he goes, especially if teammate (and Wisconsinite) Wesley Matthews is around to nudge the teasing.
“Walk on the bus: ‘Boo,’” said Allen.
“In the hotel: ‘Boo,’” added Allen.
“’Bout to watch film: ‘Boo.’”
Allen’s encore for his career-playoff best 22 points off the bench in the Game 3 win Friday night was another career-playoff best 27 points in the Game 4 win, 119-95, Sunday afternoon. More boos. From the bench. Which probably drowned out a real “(Bleep) you, Grayson Allen” from a fan behind the Bucks basket at the end of the game.
“I didn’t know….” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Are they doing that? Whatever… it’s working, so…”
Allen shot 78.6% from three point range (5-7, 6-7) in 53 minutes over the two games, so it could be a lot of fun talk about being able to pass to him and count on a bucket…
“I think it’s more fun booing Grayson,” said fellow guard Jrue Holiday. “I think it started with the fans.
“He be hoopin’ when we start booing him, so… Maybe it means something to him. Some form of support. I’m still going to be booing the hell out of him.”
It has only reinforced Allen’s reputation that began all the way back at Duke for being the aggravating player that everyone hates — unless he’s playing for your team.
“Someone showed me the picture when he had the ‘And-One ‘ in Game 3 — and the whole bench was booing him,” said Bucks teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo. “I thought that was really funny. Like, he’s got to take that picture and frame it.
“That’s the definition of his career,” said Giannis.
From the time Allen was introduced as a new Milwaukee Buck back in September, where he was reminded of his days at Duke and breaking the hearts of the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2015 NCAA tournament, to the revival of his old reputation for tripping and scrums in college where he was also suspended a game, Allen has arrived in Wisconsin with, can we say, a lukewarm welcome by some? Kind of like the annoying friend in the group that everyone keeps around because they’ll be the designated driver?
“I think that’s his comfort zone, I think that’s what he’s used to, right?” said Bucks center Brook Lopez of the Bucks boos. “I think he likes that more than the cheers.”
Actually, funny enough — Allen does not, in fact, completely embrace all of this.
He’s learning to roll with it — but that’s very different.
“I would still say that it’s not naturally comfortable for me,” said Allen. “But I am to the point now where, I mean, anytime I go out and play basketball, I just remind myself to have fun with it. So I am having fun with it — I guess you could say — because I am playing basketball. That’s what I love to do. The ultimate joy out there for me is just playing, have fun, play free.
“Still, though, my personality is uncomfortable with the attention. The booing. The heckling.
“It’s not like something I feed off of. I’m not going out searching for it, like, oh I love this…”
And yet where would the Bucks be right now without Allen? They are up 3-1 on the Bulls and two blowout wins on the road where Milwaukee made it look easy, and Allen has really stepped up in to injured Khris Middleton’s spot — literally and figuratively.
Budenholzer said Allen’s ability to play beyond shooting threes has added texture and depth to Milwaukee’s offensive schemes. Just like that play seven years ago against the Badgers where Allen drove to the basket, Budenholzer singled out Allen for excellence at playing basketball off the dribble.
“He’s got both good feet and good hands,” said Budenholzer. “He’s athletic — but he’s shifty. His footwork is good. When you’re around him, his finishing, his ability to put it on the glass with some spin. He’s got a lot to work with.
“The time that he’s putting in to player development, that the assistants put in with him is bearing some fruit right now.”
Allen added three steals as well, a source of pride given the Bucks’ need for better defensive play.
“He plays with a chip on his shoulder,” said Antetokounmpo of Allen after several other compliments.
A Chicago journalist reminded Allen during the postgame that he was booed here for that play on Caruso, and Allen added that he heard on a podcast that he never reached out to Caruso.
“Which, I did try,” said Allen. “I tried two different ways. And then when I saw that (the podcast) I got another number from somebody and I tried to reach out again but, at that point it’s not about me expecting a reply. It’s just about me wanting to let him know.
“It’s more about something between me and him. So I don’t expect a reply, I don’t think he would even want to.”
Caruso returned to the floor March 12 after missing 22 games following surgery to repair the wrist injured on the play with Allen.
For the most part, Allen silenced a lot of people at the United Center anyway by playing some of the best playoff basketball of his career and helping the Bucks dominate.
But would he ever want to silence his own mates?
“No, they have so much fun doing it,” said Allen. “I think it’s funny, I think it’s hilarious. They’ve kind of turned it in to a fun thing; it makes hearing it out there during the game a lot easier too because they think it’s so funny.”
Message Lori Nickel on Twitter at @LoriNickel, Instagram at @bylorinickel or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChinUpLoriNickel
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks players boo teammate Grayson Allen to take sting out of heckling