The future owner of that home was on-site to help with the build and Allen very much wanted to meet him. “So when it’s all done,” Allen instructed him, “you gonna say, ‘Tony Allen helped do this.’ You know what I’m saying?” Another handshake, another snap, and The Grindfather (TM) was on his way. Allen had buzzed about from the moment he stepped off the bus, all pep and play with teammates, coaches, and assorted volunteers alike. Yet the moment he really lit up—in pure exhiliration —was when Allen heard mention of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the finished houses. “I definitely gotta be there,” Allen said, rubbing his hands together.
The old Gasol easily would have been emotionally distraught and absent the rest of the night. But Gasol removed his ankle tape, iced the foot, returned in the fourth quarter and cheered on the team’s youngsters through two overtime periods. “He’s getting there,” said Conley, who is closest to Gasol as a teammate. “It doesn’t change overnight. He knows that he needs to be one of the leaders of the team and be less emotional if things don’t go the right way. He’s really working on that. He’s not getting as frustrated and learning to move on to the next thing. We need that from him if we’re going to be good.”
“He was a little grumpy last year. But (shoot), he had a right to be,” Randolph said. “We had a bad start and then he missed a lot of games. He loves the game and he’s emotional. It’s an emotional game. But you never question his heart and where his mind is. He’ll be alright.” Still, Gasol now goes out of his way to put his arm around young big men JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin and Deyonta Davis. He mentoring more than ever. “Whenever I say something to them I don’t have anything else on my mind. I don’t try to make them look bad, I don’t try to embarrass them,” Gasol said. “I want them to be a better player.”