At 24-18, the Cleveland Cavaliers are feeling good about the direction of the team. Multiple players have served as major contributors thus far, though arguably none more than Jarrett Allen.
In his first full season with the Cavaliers, Allen is the anchor of a team that ranks within the top-three in defense just over the halfway point. But the fifth-year center also has a bit of offensive game as well, averaging 16.7 points in a career-high 32.6 minutes per game. And every time Allen scores, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland is alerted by a sound both Allen and video game lovers everywhere can greatly appreciate.
Jarrett Allen seems destined to represent the Cavaliers in the All-Star Game
When the NBA All-Star Game tips off on February 20 in Cleveland, don’t be surprised if Allen is there representing the home team.
Cleveland was fortunate to land Allen in last year’s multi-team James Harden trade. In a little over three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, the 23-year-old averaged 10.1 points and 7.9 rebounds in 24.4 minutes. After moving to the Cavs, he averaged 13.2 points and 9.9 rebounds in 51 games.
Even after drafting USC big man Evan Mobley and signing Chicago Bulls 7-footer Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland still had big plans for Allen in 2021-22. Last offseason, the Cavaliers signed the restricted free agent to a five-year, $100 million deal, solidifying his spot in the team’s present and future plans. And so far, their investment has been well worth it.
Along with averaging career highs in points and rebounds, Allen is shooting 70.0% from the field. Only Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert has been more efficient. “Fro” is also fifth in the league for defensive rating and 11th in Player Efficiency Rating, or PER. For the latter, he out-ranks All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns, DeMar DeRozan, and Stephen Curry.
“He’s grown in leadership and he’s grown in confidence because he knows his teammates depend on him,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained earlier this season when asked about Allen’s growth. “That kind of maturation has made him a better basketball player, and the belief in himself. He knows what he’s capable of doing and he knows his teammates need him to do it in order for us to be successful, so that’s a credit to him.”
Allen pays tribute to a classic video game every time he scores
Allen’s coach is quick to praise the 23-year-old for his maturation. But ultimately the future All-Star is still a kid at heart. In case you needed proof, just listen to the home arena every time he scores.
As pointed out in Zach Lowe’s latest “10 Things” article on ESPN, the Cavaliers’ game operations staff plays a short jingle from the Legend of Zelda video game series whenever Allen makes a shot. It’s not a coincidence, as the big man grew up playing Zelda games and still collects Zelda-related memorabilia.
The sound, which Lowe says originated from any moment in the game, “when the protagonist uncovered some secret item or entry point,” has carried over from Allen’s days in Brooklyn. Years ago, Nets employees asked Allen and other players for suggestions on what to play whenever they scored.
“It took me about 10 seconds to come up with the perfect one,” Allen said. “Short and sweet.”
Jarrett Allen is not a typical NBA star
Allen has never been the type of player to conform to the norm. Even after striking it rich with a $100 million deal and becoming one of the league’s best up-and-coming centers, his hobbies over the years explain how unique he actually is.
As documented above, Allen is a major fan of all things Zelda. But a 2018 profile in The New York Times revealed the league leader in 2-point field-goal percentage actually built his own computer in high school.
“It started with destroying stuff,” Allen said. “I would break things apart, then put them together. Then my dad gave us one of his super-old computers, and I’ve really been on that track since I was probably around 5.”
Back in his younger days, Allen would also take day trips to the museum on his own just for fun. When he wasn’t at home playing video games or teaching himself how to cook, that is. But at the end of the day, he’s still a basketball player, and a very good one at that.
“His passion for the game is underrated,” former Nets teammate Spencer Dinwiddie told Bleacher Report in 2018. “And just because he likes tech things and video games and has passions outside basketball, that doesn’t mean he’s any less dedicated to being the best center in the league. Which I believe he’s capable of being.”
Allen could very well be on his way to a long All-Star career. If that’s the case, expect to hear the Zelda jingle a lot more frequently.