Former Celtic Tony Allen Trying to Step Out of Shadows After Signing With Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grizzlies guard
Tony Allen
said Friday he's ready to bring defensive toughness and
championship experience to his new team as it guns for the playoffs this
season.

Allen signed a multiyear contract with
the Grizzlies two weeks ago, leaving the Eastern Conference champion
Boston Celtics after six seasons. He appeared in two NBA Finals against
the Lakers, winning the title in 2008 and losing this past season.

Allen has averaged 7.2 points per game
and 1.04 steals per game in his career. The 6-foot-4 guard is valued
for his ability to cover the other team's best player.

Last season playoffs saw Allen defend
Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Dwyane Wade.

"I'm definitely going to try to start
early defining a role, try to bring some sort of toughness to the
ballclub," Allen said. "It's obvious I have experience and I'm just
looking forward to just letting that marinate amongst the players that's
in this locker room."

Allen joins a young team with a
crowded backcourt. O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley are projected as starters,
with Allen, Sam Young and first round picks Greivis Vasquez and Xavier
Henry
as possible contributors.

Allen, who was drafted by Grizzlies
general manager Chris Wallace when Wallace was with Boston, says he
considers his arrival in Memphis as a fresh start.

"Being in Boston I was kind of
overshadowed by those guys, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen," Allen said.
"Here's a ballclub who's on the rise and a lot of guys can make names
for themselves. It's a coming out party for a lot of guys on this team."

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has
said he expects the team to make the playoffs. Last season, the
once-woeful Grizzlies fell short of their first .500 season since 2006
and posted the second best improvement in wins behind Oklahoma City.

As a Celtic, Allen said he learned
the importance of togetherness, a theme that Boston coach Doc Rivers
preached throughout the playoffs.

Allen said Rivers pulled him aside in
training camp and told him he was expected to be a defensive stopper.
He expects to fill the same role with the Grizzlies, while also helping
on offense.

"I don't mind embracing the role, but
there is more to my game. Let's not get that twisted," Allen said.
"Whatever I could do to win ballgames. If that's just passing out
Gatorades or flashing towels or giving somebody a high five, I'm willing
to do that."