When we stopped through the World Champions’ locker room last night before they crushed the Knicks, the atmosphere was noticeably free and easy. Sam Cassell was trying to get Kendrick Perkins to jump rope with him. A bunch of guys came by to say what’s up to the champs – Gus Johnson, Billy Hunter, Danny Ainge. And everyone had a smile on their face.
That is, except for Tony Allen. He was the only guy I noticed wearing headphones, bumping along with the bass to try to get ready for the preseason game. He’s been bombarded with questions about filling in for James Posey so far, which hasn’t helped him to find his own niche on this team.
Dime: Everyone has talked about how you’ve got a huge burden replacing James Posey this season…
Tony Allen: The last time that I answered a question about James Posey, it turned out that someone said that I said I was better than Posey. I mean we’re just different types of players – we’re two different types of guys.
I’m just out here playing, man. I’m getting minutes on the court, that’s the biggest difference. Getting minutes, man. If you look at the statistics, when I’m out there and get more minutes, I’m most likely to blossom. Playing more minutes, that’s it.
Dime: What is opening night going to be like next Tuesday?
TA: Next Tuesday, I’m trying to get the ring. I’m excited about the ring. I’m excited about opening up with Cleveland. I’m excited about everything. But I gotta calm down and focus on the game plan, beating Cleveland.
Dime: How has this training camp been different from last year – has it been less cohesive because you didn’t go to Italy?
TA: It’s the same camaraderie that we built last year in Italy that we got this year. We all hung out in Maine and went out to eat. We did a lot of things together, just like we did last year, so I don’t think it was no different. We just lost one of our soldiers.
Dime: What’s the biggest difference in your game from last year to today?
TA: Not last year, but two years ago with the way I played – that’s the style of play that I want to get back to. I want to get to that level again. It’s just confidence basically. Last year I was thinking I might mess up and get yanked. ‘I gotta get the ball to Kevin! Oh no, Paul made it look like he wanted the ball, but I got it to Kevin! I was supposed to pass it to Paul!’ Now I just want to play basketball, that’s it.