If you're an adult now, chances are you were probably a whole lot different. You probably did a whole bunch of things you regret, made a whole shit-load of mistakes, and look back at the young person you used to be and shake your head at some of your decisions. (Me? I've done many a stupid thing in life. One of my mistakes? Egging a house. It wasn't the fact that I egged a house that was so stupid; every kid does that once or twice. It's the fact that I got caught. I actually think I'm the only person in the history of the world to ever get caught egging a house. How in the world can you posibly get caught egging a house, you ask? By accidentally leaving your cell phone at the scene of the egging. Damn my small, slippery pockets.)
But everyone grows up, right? You learn from the mistakes of your younger days and grow into an adult. To put it simply, you mature. You go through experiences and they change you, mend you and make you a different person. It's inevitable.
Inevitable, that is, unless it was Tony Allen on a basketball court. Nope, he never changed. He kept making the same mistakes over and over again. He'd throw a dumb turnover, one that most people would learn from, but then he'd do it again the next game. He would drive into traffic continously, making reckless drives into the teeth of the defense that resulted in a charge... then he'd do it again the next game. He would foul a three-point shooter at the worst possible time and then, you guessed it, do it again the next game. Tony never seemed to harness his talent, always following whatever good stretches he had by making plays that would make you scratch your head and wonder what in the world was going through his head. He'd make the same mistakes over and over, and over and over, and over and over. I think he's the only player I've ever wanted to strangle - actually strangle - just because I watched him play basketball.
But is it possible that all that nonsense is merely the old Tony Allen? That the new Tony Allen has finally gone through the inevitable process known as maturation?
Before the season, I wouldn't have thought it possible that TA could mature. If you told me he was going to, it would have been like telling me the Celtics would go 10-72 for the season: I'd look at you, shake my head, maybe laugh a little, then turn and walk away, making sure to remember never to trust another thing that comes out of your mouth as long as I live.
But doesn't he seem to be coming around? As unlikely as it was before the season, Allen is playing like he's finally matured. He's providing solid and consistent minutes off the bench, so much so that I'm starting to let down my guard when he comes into the game. (By letting my guard down, I mean I no longer firmly grasp the sides of my chair so neither of my hands are free when he makes another signature dumb play. Why do I hold the side of the chair so tightly? If I had a free hand, I would probably use it to throw my remote control through the television set, and I don't really feel like paying for a new t.v.) He's letting the game come to him, rather than trying to force his imprint upon it and, for the first time in a long, long time, TA has put together a string of good performances.
He's played so well that when I heard that Nate Robinson wants to become a Celtic, I immediately thought, "I'd like him on the team, he can score and he could help, but I hope the C's don't have to give up Tony Allen to get him." If you'd asked me before the season if I'd ever say that I wanted the Celtics to keep Tony Allen, I would have told you maybe... if I became addicted to heroine and cocaine, and then was hypnotized while on a week-long drug binge. Other than that, I would have thought the answer would be absolutely not.
But Tony is playing well. He's inspiring confidence and, for the first time in a long time, I don't mind it when he's in the game.
Am I completely sold on him, yet? No, not at all. He's like the girlfriend who always cheats on you, then goes on her best behavior for a couple weeks. You really like the new her, but you can't trust that she's going to stay faithful to you... you just can't. Really, no matter how long she stays loyal, you'll never completely trust her. You'll always fear a relapse.
So that's where I am with Tony Allen right now. I love his recent play and I can't believe the quality of his recent minutes, but I will always, always fear a relapse.
My brain is telling me that Tony Allen is still Tony Allen, still likely to make a mistake at the worst possible time.
But my heart? It's saying Tony might have finally turned the corner.