STILLWATER — He was on the basketball court, so, naturally, Tony Allen couldn't help himself.
Lathered in sweat, the Memphis Grizzlies' defensive savant was going hard, grit and grind as he calls it, blocking 10-year-olds and posting up 12-year-olds.
One kid, who dared attempt to cross up Allen at his own basketball camp — this the first ever in Stillwater — had his pocket picked in a drill, with a playful Allen trash-talking him immediately after the steal: “First-Team All-D, baby, First-Team All-D.”
“I'm actually catching my breath, because one of the kids was pretty good,” Allen admitted after a spirited 3-on-3 game. “Any time I get on the hardwood, I'm competing 110 percent. I even fouled a kid today. That was a little rough, but I got to win.”
The comments were lighthearted, as were the plays.
But Allen's ultracompetitive nature, in all situations, can't be masked in any environment. It's too ingrained in his personality and vital to his craft.
And now, because of that relentless energy and work ethic, particularly on the defensive end, he returns for a week in his college town as a mature, wealthy and respected man, the perfect success story for local campers to model after.
He's 31 and settled, at the perfect place in his career, recently signed to a four-year, $20 million extension with the Grizzlies.
It was a well-earned payday that comes on the heels of his second consecutive All-Defensive First Team nod, an award he gladly gloats about.
“Been a long time coming,” Allen said. “I felt my first six years in the league, I played behind Paul Pierce. I wasn't really able to let the world see my attributes that I bring to the table. But I've just been working and now I'm in a great situation, as far as my team, as far as my contract, my life and all I could do now is eat, sleep and work on defense. So it's fun to me, any time I get an award like that.”