Oklahoma State basketball: Eddie Sutton still a big part of Tony Allen's life

The Memphis Grizzlies guard still calls his college coach to catch up on life, basketball and more. The two will get together in person on Thursday when the Grizzlies visit the Thunder.
By Anthony Slater Staff Writer aslater@opubco.com Published: January 29, 2013
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photo - SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2004. OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY  (OSU)  VS GEORGIA TECH COLLEGE BASKETBALL.  Oklahoma State's Tony Allen hears from head coach Eddie Sutton about one of his three first-half fouls against Georgia Tech in the first half of their NCAA Tournament Men's Final Four semifinal game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Saturday, April 3, 2004.  Staff photo by Nate Billings.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2004. OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY (OSU) VS GEORGIA TECH COLLEGE BASKETBALL. Oklahoma State's Tony Allen hears from head coach Eddie Sutton about one of his three first-half fouls against Georgia Tech in the first half of their NCAA Tournament Men's Final Four semifinal game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Saturday, April 3, 2004. Staff photo by Nate Billings.

Allen was drafted by the Celtics in 2004 and helped Boston win a title in 2008. But along the way, there were off-court issues (an aggravated battery charge — he was later found not guilty — in 2005 for an incident outside a nightclub) and injuries (a torn ACL in 2007).

Through it all, Sutton was always there, suffering through his own personal problems but still finding a way to provide direction for Allen.

He'd warn Allen about the financial downfalls for athletes post-retirement, tell him to always listen to his “wonderful mother” and, of course, critique his defensive stance and intensity.

“Most importantly, he just taught me how to be a man,” Allen said. “On and off the court, he stayed on my behind. When I was doing good, he kept me levelheaded and I like that about him.”

Allen's finally found a home, and key role, in Memphis, starting at shooting guard for the playoff-bound Grizzlies. He's 31 years old. His life has settled.

Sutton, meanwhile, is well into retirement. He's 76 years old and living in Tulsa.

They're at different stages of life, in different parts of the country. But the two make sure to find time for each other, at least once a month.

Like a couple weeks ago, when Allen called Sutton to check up on him after the death of his wife, a woman Allen loved and respected. Or Thursday, when the two will be reunited in person, with Allen's Grizzlies in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder. Sutton will be there.

“Most definitely, it's a special relationship,” Allen said. “That's Coach Sutton. He means everything. He's been a great mentor, put a lot of guidance in my life. So I love him for that.”