In their Jan. 21 victory over the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen received a Flagrant 2 foul and the mandatory ejection that comes with it. His offense was a double-armed takedown of driving Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso. Given Allen’s past flirtations with dirty play while at Duke and during NBA Summer League, his involvement ratcheted up the volume on social media.
Caruso finished the game. But the following morning, the Bulls announced he would require surgery to repair a fracture in his right wrist, an injury sustained during the fall after Allen fouled him.
Before considering any incidents that could cross the line into dirty play, Chicago and Milwaukee are rivals. But the Bucks’ response has been to continue throwing gasoline onto the flames.
Grayson Allen’s history merits consideration
According to Jamal Collier of ESPN, Grayson Allen’s flagrant foul against the Bulls was the second of his four-year NBA career and his first this season.
Robert Zeglinskyi of USA Today’s For the Win broke down the 26-year-old’s complicated history.
The All-American kept finding himself at the center of controversies over his on-court antics while at Duke. Twice during his sophomore year, Allen tripped players deliberately. Allen spent his offseason preaching to whoever would listen that he had reformed.
Early during his junior season, his repentance tripped up when he sent an Elon player sprawling with a trip. He mixed it up with Trae Young during his first NBA Summer League and received consecutive flagrant fouls for banging Boston Celtics rookie Grant Williams — once in the head — during his second summer stint in Las Vegas.
Fortunately, the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t send Allen back for a third go-around in Summer League.
The offenses committed at Duke aren’t part of Allen’s NBA resume. But as they might say in one of those lawyer dramas, it establishes a pattern of behavior, your honor.
Allen won’t play on Jan. 26 when Milwaukee visits Cleveland. The NBA issued a one-game suspension for the foul against Caruso.
Here’s where the Bucks are failing to read the room.
Milwaukee Bucks Twitter decided it was time to get cute
In a since-deleted tweet, the official account for the Milwaukee Bucks fired off a GIF of a player taking a bite out of a donut with the message “good morning.” Not long after the Bulls announced Caruso’s injury status, they sent the tweet.
The player in the GIF? Grayson Allen, of course.
Social media is an edgy game. Everyone competes for attention. The tweet didn’t last long on the Internet, in part because at least one adult in the room ordered it deleted and partly because it was on its way to an all-time ratio.
Even the Bulls account was stunned, replying with a single word: “Seriously?”
After the NBA announced Allen’s suspension on Sunday, the Bucks issued a statement, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN: “We disagree with the suspension. We support Grayson and look forward to him rejoining our team for Friday’s game vs. New York.”
Seriously, sometimes the best action is to take none. While the play wasn’t Kevin McHale clotheslining Kurt Rambis, Allen exacerbated the impact with the late swing of his right arm. The first move, with the left, wasn’t particularly out of line. He made a play for the ball. The second swipe caused the problem, both for Caruso’s wrist and Allen’s playing status.
Agree or disagree with the penalty, Grayson Allen isn’t an innocent victim
Grayson Allen carries a reputation as a dirty player. He got that tag while at Duke, and he’ll likely have it for the duration of his career.
It’s not just what he’s done. There are also dirty plays that didn’t quite work out as planned. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News shared a tweet in December 2021 that clearly showed Allen kicking out his right foot after Derrick Rose toasted him off the dribble.
He didn’t connect. Ultimately there was no harm done. But the intent is clear. It’s like Allen never quite understood the concept of moving his feet on defense. Pro tip: That’s not what any of the coaches meant, Grayson.
Allen will always have his defenders. Legions of Duke fans stand firmly behind him. The Bucks and much of their fan base are willing to write off the Caruso incident as a good, hard-nosed hustle play. Other reasons likely exist as well.
But it’s puzzling that the Milwaukee Bucks would take such a strong organizational stance. You can write off the ill-advised tweet to poor judgment in the heat of the moment (or a poorly timed promotions schedule). But the statement from the team doubled down on that. It’s a bad look for a professional franchise, let alone the defending NBA champions.