New Orleans Pelicans

NBA Superlatives: Pelicans guard/forward Tony Allen

With over 800 career regular season games and 112 playoff contests under his belt, Tony Allen is the most experienced member of the New Orleans Pelicans. The 35-year-old is now in his 14th NBA season, but despite his lengthy time in the league, the Pelicans are only his third different team (he played six seasons for Boston, then seven for Memphis, prior to coming to the Crescent City). As Allen noted himself during training camp, once a team acquires him, they tend to want to keep him. Allen spoke with recently about some of his experiences in the league since being a first-round pick in 2004:

Most memorable moments in the NBA: “Winning an NBA championship. Also, my first time ever getting an individual accolade in the league kind of surprised me. I didn’t even know I was in (the conversation). Being runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year four straight years in a row, before that happened, I didn’t know the league was noticing me in that way. Getting my first (award) plaque kind of shocked me. I was almost in tears. I was like, ‘Yo, I’m actually good at this!’ [smiles] All I could think about was Coach Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State, telling me that I was going to be a 10-year pro, because I play both sides of the floor. Then when I went to Boston, Doc Rivers was telling me, ‘Hey, if you want to stay in this league, you’ve got to do the things that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen aren’t here to do.’ That’s basically winning the 50-50 balls, getting offensive rebounds, getting out in transition and playing the passing lanes, for the entire time I’m on the court. Also, locking in on my man. When I first got that defensive award, those coaches popped up in my mind. They were mentors telling me how to survive in the NBA.”

Most memorable dunk in the NBA: “They actually just posted it on Twitter (in September). When I was with Boston and we were playing in Denver, I got the ball in transition, did a self-pass for a windmill on a fast break. I was just a young rookie and we were losing pretty badly, but I had gotten a chance to be on the court and I saw the opportunity to show the coach that I could really do something to help the team. But I remember it like yesterday, (Boston GM) Danny Ainge pulled me to the side afterward and said, ‘Come over here, T.A., we need to talk.’ I was feeling good, because I had 10 points or something, and had this nice dunk. Danny Ainge said to me, ‘You shouldn’t try to lose pretty. You can’t do that in this league, not when you’re down 30 points.’ That actually woke me up in a lot of ways and I really appreciated that advice from him. So now when I get a breakaway and we’re up 30, I just bring the ball out, or just take a simple layup. That was Danny Ainge helping me mature and showing me the light and reality of that situation.”

Most embarrassing moment in the NBA: “When I was a rookie in Boston, Kobe Bryant fouled me out with six fouls in something like eight minutes.”

Most surprising thing about the NBA as a rookie: “All the duties you have to do, and not understanding how the NBA works. I was so confused, because everything was on the fly. I had to learn fast. I had good mentors around me, but it was difficult at first.”

Toughest player to face at his position: “There are so many talented guards, you could really start anywhere. As far as who are the toughest ones, I just don’t want to give any of them credit right now.” [smiles]

Most underrated player in the NBA: “Mike Conley in Memphis. Over the last few years, I saw him have games where he was totally unstoppable. He’s made incredible growth in his career to get to where he is now, but I still think he’s underrated. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by what he does this season.”

Favorite road arena: “I always liked playing in New Orleans (as a visiting player). I also like Portland. When I come to New Orleans, I’ve always had a lot of family and friends come see me, coaches I know. I also had some big games here.”

Favorite road trip, based on the city: “I like Los Angeles, hitting up the Mr. Chow restaurant. It’s a great setting to eat.”