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Mountain or Molehill? Grayson Allen, Bucks Come Under Fire

Allen committed a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected last night. And now, it’s a whole thing.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

At the 5:45 mark of the third quarter of last night’s Milwaukee Bucks victory over the Chicago Bulls, the play-by-play log on looks like this:

Of course, there’s far more than meets the eye. In the scramble for a long rebound following a Khris Middleton miss, the Bulls gain possession and run down the floor. Alex Caruso, beloved do-it-all glue guy in Chicago and beyond, starts at the opposite three-point line but kicks it into gear quickly, breaking into a sprint at halfcourt. Ayo Dosunmu has Pat Connaughton between him and the basket, but he sees Caruso streaking into open space and tosses a pass across his body. The only Buck with an angle on the play is Grayson Allen, who’s on the opposite wing from Caruso and moving in the same direction, and the two players take off into the air from inside the lane.

That’s when the play went south.

Allen actually overshot Caruso’s drive, and he can’t effectively contest the layup. So instead Allen reaches with his left arm to try and tie up Caruso and prevent the shot. At this point, a regular foul has already been committed, but anybody who’s played basketball knows that the play doesn’t stop on a dime. As the whistle is blown, Allen’s right arm is coming around to try and tie up Caruso’s arms in an effort to prevent the shot, but Caruso has already lost the ball. It’s too late, the momentum Allen used to swing his right arm is already carrying it straight toward Caruso, and because of the angle that Caruso’s body is already at, the second swipe from Allen is enough to knock Caruso off-kilter in mid-air.

Naturally, Caruso is going to try and brace his fall. He’s a human, that’s what humans do. But the only thing he can do (remember, he’s flying sideways now) is stick out his right arm, and push against the ground with his right hand. It’s not the best decision, but it’s hardly a decision at all; Caruso doesn’t have time to calculate his velocity and the angle of his descent.

The hand gets planted on the court, the rest of his mass has nowhere else to transfer the energy, and just like that Caruso is out for 6-8 weeks with a fractured wrist.

It’s gutting for Caruso, who had been enjoying a breakout year in his first season with Chicago and had just come back from injury. It’s yet another Bulls player who got hurt, joining Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams on the inactive list. The play happened on an ESPN broadcast, so tons of people saw it.

And Grayson Allen was the one who committed the foul, which is all you need to know about how today is going.

Alex Caruso is upset. He has every right to be, dude fractured his wrist! I’d be mad too. And nobody in Milwaukee is specifically happy with Grayson Allen, who clearly committed a hard foul that turned out to be harder than was necessary. Allen received a flagrant 2 and was ejected, which is...exactly what happens when a hard foul is too hard. Or is it?

Same night, different game, similar play. The Lakers’ Talen Horton-Tucker made a play on the ball against Orlando’s Jalen Suggs to prevent a layup, and Suggs hit the ground hard. Fortunately for everyone, Suggs didn’t walk away with a serious injury, but Caruso also stayed in to finish the game after putting on a wrist brace. He played nearly 10 minutes in the fourth quarter! So injury can’t be factored in to the decision the refs made, which was to give Allen a flagrant 2 and THT...a flagrant 1.

Fine, whatever. There are enough differences in the nuances of each game and each play that you can make a valid case either way for either Allen or THT’s fouls to be called how they were, or lower for Allen and higher for Horton-Tucker. But are the Orlando Magic calling for league intervention against the Lakers? Are fans posting online about how they wish for a suspension, or a fine, or (in some extreme cases) serious bodily harm to befall Talen Horton-Tucker?

That’s not happening, because THT is not Grayson Allen. You see, people looooove to hate Grayson Allen, and it would be unfair to not mention his well-earned college reputation. Once that stain sets, it’s impossible to get out, as we’re seeing now with all the vitriol being spewed in his direction. The Bucks, as a franchise, are getting wrapped up into it as well, catching flak for posting a video of Allen eating a doughtnut this morning...which they’ve done with various players for every game this season. Sure, they didn’t do themselves any favors by choosing Allen over someone else (the post has since been deleted), but does that warrant this reaction?

Grayson Allen committed a bad foul. It was poor judgement on his part that put Alex Caruso in a dangerous situation, and Caruso did indeed get hurt as a result. The rest of it? It’s drama, pure and simple, manufactured to feed the outrage machine and drive social media engagement. Allen’s foul defending that play was him attempting to win that play, “and a lot of times you have to play physical, play a little dirty to try to slow guys down because this league is filled with killers, filled with guys that are really good offensive players.”

UPDATE: Grayson Allen received a 1-game suspension from the NBA, because of course he did.


What do you think? Is today’s Grayson Allen outrage warranted?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Yes, he deserves it.
    (543 votes)
  • 35%
    No, it’s overblown.
    (331 votes)
  • 5%
    I’m not sure.
    (48 votes)
922 votes total Vote Now