Tony Allen was selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft.
Allen carried a ton of potential. He had uncanny athleticism and the skills to be a versatile star in the league. Many of those skills never materialized, and he may be the most frustratingly inconsistent Celtics I've ever rooted for.
Now he's gone.
He signed a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies this morning.
I already miss him.
The Tony Allen era lasted six bizarre seasons.
His turnover to good offensive play ratio was at least 5:1. I can count on one hand the number of key jump shots I saw him make.
His Celtics resume also consists of a gun charge and a blown out knee that occurred during a show off dunk AFTER the whistle blew on a play.
As this was happening, he transformed himself into an elite defender.
When Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined the team, and Boston became a contender, Allen's defense was ready to aid their championship run.
This past season, Allen's defense helped Boston defeat Dwayne Wade and the Heat in addition to James, before falling to the Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Although the Lakers won, Allen's defense was able to contain Bryant for most of the series.
Allen fit in perfectly with the Celtics team defense concept that yielded them two Eastern Finals Championships and an NBA title in three years. Although former assistant and defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau has left to become the head coach of the Chicago Bulls (and deservedly so), it was believed that the philosophy that produced the most successful Celtics run in over 20 years would remain in tact.
Maybe it will, with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen coming back, but Tony Allen was a big part of that nucleus too.
There are other defensive specialists out there.
Perhaps whoever they bring in won't be as inconsistent between his offensive and defensive game; an inconsistency that gave him the nickname "Trick or Treat Tony."
Maybe the void will be filled by first round draft pick Avery Bradley, one of the best guards coming into the league.
Whoever takes Allen's place, it will take time for them to be revered on the defensive end the way Tony Allen was. When he came into an NBA Finals game, Kobe Bryant changed his strategy.
That's respect right there.
While he was one of the Celtics major problems prior to the new big three era, he was a major contributor to the team's recent success.
For that he will always be admired by this Celtics fan.