Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tony Allen on his greatest Twitter hits
By Justin Verrier
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Tony Allen is one of the grittiest players in the league, and also one of its most prolific tweeters.
The cocktail of player-media back-and-forths, teammate chatter and muffled bass hits that often permeates in the cramped visiting locker room at Staples Center slowed to a brief halt when an unexpected serenade came belting out from behind the walls of the shower area.
The crackling high notes were sent from the pipes of one Tony Allen, who emerged from the ceramic divider with a towel wrapped around his waist, singing the first lines of the chorus to Stevie Wonder’s "I Just Called To Say I Love You" … only with a small Allen twist: Instead of “love you,” he crooned something else.
"I had to switch it up on y’all," he said with a cackle.
A nearby team staffer chuckled and a scant amount of Memphis Grizzlies players shook their heads and smiled, but most went about their pregame maintenance. Scenes like this one aren’t exactly uncommon when you’re around Allen.
Part in-your-face, part blue-collar, part jukebox, part inspirational quote machine, part God-fearing man, Allen says he makes sure to hold some things back from the public eye -- "I only give you half! … All we ask is trust," he said, dipping into his never-ending bag of fortune-cookie phrases -- but when he does open up, it comes unfiltered.
That lay-it-all-out-there mentality has made him the emotional leader of the Grizzlies, his "Grit and Grind" ethos serving as the mantra for the scrappy, superstarless small-market club. And it’s also what makes Allen a cult hit on Twitter.
On his @aa000g9 account -- Allen says the two As represent his first and middle name, Anthony Allen; the zeroes symbolize his fresh start in Memphis after six years in Boston; the "g" because he’s a Grizzly (or, despite Allen's insistence, 000g could also mean "triple OG," as some have mentioned); and 9 is his jersey number -- Allen will fill what he calls his public diary with about 20 140-character-or-less status reports a day, his words often laced with heavy doses of punctuation and capital letters. All fingered into his cell phone in stream of consciousness, the 30-year-old Allen will provide updates on his day, sing song lyrics and dole out words to live by as confusing as they are thought-provoking, creating a daily tea-cup ride into the mind of one of the NBA’s most unique characters.
"I’m just giving them my life story," he said. "Ain’t sugar-coating nothing. When it happen, it happen. When I see it, I see it. If it worth tweeting, I’mma tweet it."
He had only 25,095 followers as of March 26, a hefty number for the fifth- or sixth-most recognizable name on his own team but mere pebbles when compared to the swarm players like LeBron James attract, but the amusement provided by the ace defender’s raw one-man show has made him one of the most important follows in the hoops social media subculture.
But his dispatches are often as confusing as they are entertaining, so we asked Allen to give us a little background on some of his greatest hits on Twitter:
"Just encouraging the brothers that slackin’ on Valentine’s Day."
"I didn’t know what it was called. Pedicure or manicure, I didn’t want to say the wrong one."
Is taking care of your feet important to you?
"Hell ya. You don’t see that? [Points to his bare toes.] See all them good shades and everything. Ain’t no callouses or nothing. ... But look right here. [Points to one of his toes.] ‘Bout time for me to go back."
"I was in a massage one day and he had some music [that] sounded like some elevator music. So I had my iPad and I told them to turn this off and just play this.
"You should try it. Go to The W and get you a massage. They put a bag like that [points to a large plastic bag] and put your feet in some lotion -- hot lotion."
"There’s a dude, man, he always calling me LeBron, trying to be funny. … He a clown anyways, so he’s just trying to be funny.
"That’s my spot. I only go to one … [because of] superstition. Plus, it’s close to the crib."
"You gotta record your evidence.
"She didn’t know who I was, just keeping it safe. She probably thought I was gonna hit and run. She probably thought whatever, whatever her thoughts was. She just wasn’t ready to exchange no information till the police got there.
"Police took a while, so the first people to arrive were her friends. So I just said, 'Ohhh, snap.'"
"I was just taking shots at the lockout."
You didn’t actually give out Ramen?
"Nah, I ain’t give nobody that. … Hell nah. I bought like $400 worth of candy and handed it out."
"I watched the Deeds movie ["Tyler Perry's Good Deeds"]. It was a good movie, it had a message. A lot of his movies I really don’t dig. I was forced to go watch that movie and I liked it."
"[Laughs.] … [Looks up at O.J. Mayo.] 'Ice flow and then spoon flow.' He said I tweeted that."
"… Nah, that don’t mean anything."