- Scott Powers, Reporter
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CHICAGO -- Thirty-two-point-seven seconds was all the time Chicago Bulls rookie guard Ryan Allen and his older brother Memphis Grizzlies veteran guard Tony Allen shared on the United Center court on Tuesday.
There was nothing special in terms of basketball that occurred during that span. They guarded each other for three possessions, but neither touched the ball and then the first-half clock expired. Ryan didn’t see the court again the rest of the evening.
Yet, with it being Ryan’s first NBA game, the two brothers having never faced each other at any level and both being from Chicago, the few moments they did have together Tuesday were some of the greatest for the two brothers and their mother, Ella.
“It was awesome,” said Ella, who cheered for both teams behind the Grizzlies’ bench. “It was really awesome. I was like on 10. To see both of my babies out there on the floor together, I’m like, what an accomplishment, the greatest accomplishment you can make.
“I never even fathomed (that would happen.) I never even thought this would happen on nobody’s earth. I just never thought it would happen, but it did. I thank God for it. It was awesome.”
For Ryan, the first seconds of his NBA debut were like a dream to him. He checked in while teammate Luol Deng was at the free-throw line. After Deng sank his second free throw, Allen began backpedaling to the defensive end and felt as if he was going to lose his footing.
“It felt unreal first as I was backpedaling,” said the 24-year-old Allen, who borrowed his roommate and teammate Derrick Rose’s locker for the day. “Backpedaling, I thought I was going to fall, then it got real.
“It was a great feeling to be out with my brother. Watching him play all these years, to be here at this stage is big.”
Ryan stayed upright and tracked down his brother on the defensive end. A few seconds later, Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless was fouled and went to the free-throw line. Ryan stood next to Tony on the left side of the 3-point line at first, but Tony told him he should go to the other side because he needed to box out Bayless.
“He said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,’” said the 30-year-old Tony, who attended Crane high school.
Ryan didn’t expect anything less from Tony. He’s always been correcting his little brother since they were growing up on Chicago’s West Side.
“That was funny,” said Ryan, who attended Whitney Young and Thornton for high school. “That was funny. He’s always on me. That never stops. It was fun.”
When Tony spoke to Ryan on the floor during the game, it was the first time they talked in a few days. Tony said prior to the game he was treating Ryan like a regular NBA foe and hadn’t talked to him even though Tony got into Chicago the day before.
“I treat him like a rival,” Tony said. “I don’t want to talk to him before no game. I’m not in talking to anyone before a game, not even my brother.”
Ryan said, “I was trying to call him. He wouldn’t answer. What is up? I wasn’t surprised he did that.”
Ella is accustomed to her two son’s different mentalities. But as much as they’re their own people, she says they click perfectly.
“It’s like night and day,” Ella said. “Ryan is a little bit more laid back and reserved. Tony’s a little bit more upbeat. They’re like night and day. They gel really well. They get along really good. Tony is crazy about him. That’s his heart.”
Tony, knowing his mother’s love for both her sons, expected Ella had undoubtedly cried through the 32.7 seconds they were on the court together.
He was wrong.
“Man, I was just more excited,” she said. “I was excited. I was really excited. I didn’t have time to cry from the excitement. I wish they could play more, but those moments were awesome.”
Chicago's Allen brothers were thrilled to face each other in Tuesday's opener.