What's in a name?
Bucks' Allen thriving while Sixers' Iverson battles pain
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The other Allen, the tattoo-free "Barbie Doll" known as Ray Allen, is doing just fine in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard has averaged 34.5 points in the first two games against Philadelphia while making 27 of 46 shots.
The Bucks and 76ers are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Saturday. Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, slowed by a hip and tailbone injury, has listed himself as doubtful.
Casual NBA fans probably know more about Iverson than they do about Allen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Allen plays in a smaller market for a team that has toiled in mediocrity and obscurity the past decade.
"I don't think I'm controversial enough for people to talk about me," Allen said Friday. "You tend to put more negative things on the airwaves or in the newspapers or magazines."
Allen is anything but controversial, a virtual choir boy compared to many of the other better players around the league. A five-year veteran, an Olympian and a two-time All-Star, the 25-year-old Allen recorded career-high averages in field goal percentage (48 percent) and 3-point percentage (43.3) during the regular season while also moving into ninth place in NBA history for career accuracy (87.6) from the free throw line (minimum 1,200 attempts.)
A veteran of 21 playoff games, including Milwaukee's Game 2 victory in which he scored a career playoff-high 38 points, Allen has never scored fewer than 18 points in a postseason game.
"Do you want the flamboyance or special flair, or do you want the results? I think Ray is committed to the results and becoming a playoff-type of player," Bucks coach George Karl said. "Sometimes there's more style and less substance in our league, and I think Ray is trying to move in and be a player of substance and meaning, and that usually means winning."
As much as he praises Allen, Karl is no slouch when it comes to pointing out the qualities in Allen that he would like to see change.
Foremost among them is toughness.
"I call him Barbie Doll because he wants to be pretty," Karl told Sports Illustrated earlier this season. "He's a great player, but he cares too much about having style, making highlights and being cool. Basketball isn't about being cool. It's a tough, competitive game, and to win you have to be mean, you have to be an assassin, and that's not Ray."
Asked Friday about that quote, Karl said he made it in late November when the Bucks were off to a 3-9 start and he was publicly ripping several of his players.
"I've also compared him to George Gervin. He's a finesse player," Karl said.
No matter its origins, Allen said Karl continues to use the nickname in a joking manner. Perfectly illustrating his nice-guy demeanor, Allen is able to laugh at the moniker rather than be bothered by it.
"Every time he sees me dressed up nice and prim and proper he always likes to call me Barbie Doll," Allen said. "I don't care."
Allen shot 7-for-11 from 3-point range and 15-for-24 overall Thursday night in Game 2, assassin-like numbers even though the triggerman was a Boy Scout.
Allen, who attended Connecticut for three years before entering the NBA, is as genial as he is genuine -- a player with a silky shooting touch who isn't afraid to show off his brains and point out what makes him different from other players his age who get more publicity.
Aside from a brief dalliance with a goatee earlier this season, Allen has stayed true to his clean cut image and plans to keep it that way.
Suffice to say there won't be any Allen sightings at Milwaukee's tattoo parlors.
"I have a friend in Connecticut whose father used to be a sailor and had tattoos all over him, and you look now and you can't see any of his tattoos because his skin has started to be affected by gravity," he said. "Now they just look like blurs on his body, and he said if he had to do it all over again he wouldn't do it."
Imagine that, a young NBA star wise enough to realize the long-term consequences of body art. There aren't many left in this year's NBA playoffs, but Allen is one of them.