New Orleans-- His resume includes NBA Champion, 6-time NBA All-Defensive Team, first round draft pick out of Oklahoma State in 2004, and now he's in New Orleans playing for the Pelicans. Veteran guard Tony Allen sits-down with Karen Loftus this week on Pizza and the Playbook at Midway Pizza to talk about defense, high praise he got from Kobe Bryant, and being the grandfather of the Pelicans.
TA: "Oh man, it goes back to my Boston days playing around guys like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. The moments where I had my best games and got trusted to the coaches is winning the 50-50 games, diving on loose balls, making it tough for the leading scorer. Coach Doc Rivers, he told me, 'You will be a 10 year guy if you stick to that,' and he was right."
KL: "And just to put things into perspective about how good you are on defense-- Kobe Bryant even said that you were the best guy that's ever defended him. He even gave you some shoes, right?"
TA: "That was kind of shocking. I didn't think that he recognized my efforts but every time we played against each other it was definitely a battle."
KL: "Your #9 jersey is being retired in Memphis from your time with the Grizzlies. You're #24 here in New Orleans. Did your boy Rondo steal your jersey number?"
TA: "Yeah, yeah he got here a little earlier than me. But I just flipped my 42 number from high school and also when I was in Boston."
KL: "So if Rondo hadn't taken 9, would you have stuck with it?"
TA: "Yeah, I would have stuck with the 9. I would have kept it. Long live the 9."
KL: "You and Jameer Nelson are the oldest guys-- we'll say most veteran guys-- on the team."
TA: "No, it is what it is. We're the oldest."
KL: "You're 35. Do you guys stick together and try to be sort of the grandfathers of the team?"
TA: "As much as we can, we try to put our imprint on how we saw it or how it's been done before to the younger guys and I think our voice is huge in the locker room."
KL: "So how much more you got in the tank?"
TA: "I always tell people two more years I can do this."
KL: "All right. Because there are some pretty good guys that are still balling in their 40s."
TA: "I promise you, my boy Vince Carter, he definitely gives me that motivation."
KL: "Final question-- what's your favorite type of pizza?"
TA: "I'm a cheese man. I like the cheese."
KL: "All right, so we made that happen here."
TA: "Yeah, we made that happen. We took all the pepperoni off."
KL: "I'll take your pepperonis."
TA: "And then we've got the cheese pizza."
KL: "Exactly! Perfect!"