I can’t make it through six minutes of a Duke basketball game without wanting to punch Grayson Allen in his pouting, CGI age-reduced, Ted Cruz-lookin’-ass face. My frothing rage will not be satisfied until some walk-on from a one-bid school dunks so hard over Allen that he is transformed into a pile of diapers.
You say this is “unhealthy” and worthy of a deeper psychological inspection into my own damaged psyche created by my personal and professional disappointments; I say that passionately despising Grayson Allen and cathartically texting “lol” in your group text when he’s resoundingly owned is an aspect of sports we should appreciate more. Grayson Allen is a hater’s blessing because it’s rare someone this special exists.
Sports villains are few and far between these days, and Grayson Allen is the most perfect sports villain ever created. You should embrace the feeling of wanting to sock him in the nuts with brass knuckles. From the cheap shit he pulls on the court to looking like a younger version of a wildly despised politician to the fact he plays for fucking Duke, I’m telling you to savor this year’s NCAA tournament because we will never have this magical confluence of villainy again.
Athletes today are scrubbed and polished, antiseptic to such an extent that doctors could safely and hygienically remove any remnants of their personalities the PR professionals and publicists failed to excavate. It’s hard to work up a venomous lather when every athlete has hollowed out the section of their brains where interesting thoughts exist so they can peddle an app that allows you exclusive access to the shape and color of their bowel movements not available on other social media.
Who is there to hate in the NBA? The Warriors? Why, because they win a lot? Zaza Pachulia is looking to rupture tendons but he sucks and plays 14 minutes a night. What about baseball? Maybe you hate Bryce Harper because he’s sort of prickish but he’s not trying to trip you while you round the bases. Hockey’s most-hated players are goons like Zaza and the rest are robots. Once the Patriots fall off the cliff, there will be very little, if anything, in the NFL to send you into a sports rage.
It’s not that sports don’t provide us with villains, but Grayson Allen gives us the ideal incarnation of someone you want to watch, repeatedly, fall down a flight of stairs. Allen is very good and isn’t an abuser or serial harasser of women, he hasn’t tacitly endorsed the Ku Klux Klan’s favorite guy for president, he’s not sucker punching guys or trying to punt their testicles into outer space, and he’s not partnered with a snake oil salesman offering fake cures for serious diseases.
Grayson Allen is just a fucking dick, pure and simple.
Grayson Allen—by far—is the most-hated basketball player in Duke history, which is like being the worst scene in Three Billboards. I hate him so much that I have to use his full name for every reference. The only way we will ever hate a Duke player more than Grayson Allen is if the school gets letters of intent from triplets—Lax, Bro, and Bro II—and they are all Mike Krzyzewski’s grandchildren.
It’s a guilt-free, empty hate. Grayson Allen trips guys and sticks his ass into unsuspecting opponents. When hit with flagrant fouls, he acts like a fucking 12-year-old that doesn’t understand why you’re blaming him for the gallon of milk “someone” poured in the washing machine. That is the athlete I want to hate. I don’t want to think about societal and cultural implications of a credibly accused sexual abuser winning a game, because that’s heavy and real for a lot of people; I want the fuckface with DUKE across his chest to cry when he’s called for a blocking foul that ideally propels him into the sixth row.
Usually cheering against college-aged people comes with the shame of cursing at someone that can’t legally drink alcohol but Grayson Allen has made fantasizing about physical violence almost sound reasonable. Not only is he 22 years old, but some are also projecting him to be a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He’s old enough to know he shouldn’t trip opponents and he’s about to be wealthy enough that most of America’s desire to see his head flushed in a recently used toilet doesn’t matter to him. He wants us to hate him and it’s our duty to oblige him.
Grayson Allen’s presence makes watching Duke in the tournament an event. Sports are entertainment and the best entertainment products usually come with a villain you can’t wait to see get their comeuppance at the end of the story. Movie villains aren’t real villains much the way Grayson Allen isn’t a real villain in a real-world sense. Seeing him bounced in the first round of his final game at Duke would be just as satisfying as watching Hans Gruber dropped out of a window of Nakatomi Tower. It’s the ideal level of consequences for both.
So when you find yourself invested in a Thursday afternoon tilt between Duke and Iona, a school best known for looking like a typo of Iowa, remember that your investment is as deep as it is because of how much you hate Grayson Allen, the only player in the tournament you want to hear a fading Wilhelm Scream out of as he falls down an elevator shaft, but will instantly miss when he’s gone.