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The Tony Allen Situation

I’ve been hesitant to write about the Tony Allen death threat situation, only because the early stories had so little information that it was unclear whether this was a case of some whack job making prank phone calls or something worse.

It appears to be something worse. According to the Herald, TA’s Chicago friends have been implicated in a fatal August shooting that occurred after a fight at Antoine Walker’s birthday party at a club in Chicago. Information is still sparse. It’s unclear from the story what started the fight, what role TA may have played or whether anyone has been arrested. (Though it appears the crime is unsolved).

The shooting occurred near a McDonald’s parking lot at about 4:15 a.m. on a Sunday. The attackers shot two men. The victims drove themselves to a nearby hospital, where one of them, 25-year-old Curtis Ellis, died from gunshot wounds. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, police at the time believed the shooting was retaliation for someone’s decision to testify against someone else in court. 

One troubling snippet from the Herald story: Both sources said Allen’s current troubles are somehow connected to last summer’s incident, and that the Celtics guard allegedly has incurred a heavy financial debt to someone in Chicago and he now refuses to repay.

You could speculate endlessly about how Tony Allen may have found himself owing money to a less than savory character in Chicago. The speculation does not take you to good places.

According to the Herald, this is the same crew that was with Allen in Chicago in August 2005, when he brawled with two other men in a restaurant. Allen was charged with aggravated battery, and the civil litigation from the case is pending. It should be noted that criminal charges against Allen were dropped. 

So what’s to be done about this? Red’s Army is calling for the Celtics to cut ties with Allen, who becomes a free agent after next season. (He’ll earn $2.5 million in 09-10). 

That seems extreme to me. Ninety percent of the story is still unknown, and probably will stay that way. The Celtics basically aren’t commenting, and David Stern is trying to play the story down with the “this happens all the time, we just don’t discuss it” line. 

The easy reaction to have whenever there’s a story like this (and there have been a lot) is the exasperated, “Why can’t these guys realize how lucky they are to be making all this money and cut ties with their hometown thugs?” reaction. It appears that for a lot of these guys, life just isn’t that simple. I’m not going to make any final judgments without knowing more. Again, this should be stressed: It’s unclear where TA was when this parking lot shooting happened, and what role he played in the fight that led to it. 

I think we’re all overlooking the obvious lesson here: Anyone associated with the Celtics should avoid Antoine Walker.