MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The best all-purpose defender in the NBA loves to talk trash. But Tony Allen keeps that in his own locker room. He says nothing to the man he's guarding. Not a word, not whisper, nothing about someone's momma or girlfriend or even what he thinks about their breath. And yes, Allen is usually close enough to tell if they need an Altoid.
"I save my oxygen," he explains, "because I don't want to waste any energy I could be using to play the game."
You wait for him to flash an I'm-kidding smile or jab an elbow into your ribs. Nothing. He can be quite funny and quirky and always seems to be cutting someone up. But about defense? Serious as a stroke.
"I take pride in this," he said. "This is what I do. And not too many people want to do what I do. It's high risk and low rewards. There ain't no glamour, magazine covers, hype and definitely no money."