Stefan Bondy caught up with Jarrett Allen this weekend at the Overwatch League grand finale, a gathering of 19,000 fellow gaming nerds filling the venue where he normally patrols the paint.
It was very Allen, a player whose diversity of interests scouts once mistook for disinterest in basketball. He proved them wrong last season by showing a work ethic and skillset that marked him as a Nets cornerstone.
”With the really good ones, you know right away,” Kenny Atkinson said near the end of last season. “Not that I’m some savant, but I knew. His demeanor. Obviously, the talent he has. But he’s got a maturity about him that most 20-year-olds don’t have.”
Allen admits his interests are the same as his teammates. His favorite movie is Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” a stop-motion animated film set in fantastical Japan. One his favorite video games is “The Legend of Zelda.” And of course, there’s his love of the intricacy of the PC. He built his first, using YouTube instructional videos, four years ago as a high school sophomore.
“It’s not as hard as people think,” he told the Daily News. “It’s just a couple wires, a couple hardware parts and you got it going.”
It’s not something he shares with teammates, relying on his older brother for techy conversation.
“Nobody is really interested in it,” he said. “If I try to completely nerd out on them, nobody on the team would talk to me.”
Not quite. In a Bleacher Report profile of Allen, also published Tuesday, Spencer Dinwiddie dismisses the idea that his best friend on the team can’t be both an avid techie and a great basketball player.
”His passion for the game is underrated. And just because he likes tech things and video games and has passions outside basketball, that doesn’t mean he’s any less dedicated to being the best center in the league, which I believe he’s capable of being.”
In fact, the personality shown in his off-court interests can be found in his basketball persona as well. Bondy notes the 20-year-old never cheats or searches for shortcuts. He has too much respect for purity of Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyomoto. Similarly, he’s getting a reputation as being among the hardest workers in the off-season, respecting his coaches and performance team.
A lot of this may remind fans, as it did Bondy, of the center he replaced, fellow nerd Brook Lopez, but their games are very different in the new NBA.
“You’re not battling Shaq and everybody down there anymore,” he told Bondy, adding, “it’s in my personality (to be an enforcer) because when it’s game time and the ball goes up everything goes out the window. But I think it’s more going away from the super enforcer thing. Big men have to have more finesse.”
- Nets cornerstone Jarrett Allen building believers like he built a computer - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- A Key Piece of Nets’ Rebuild, Jarrett Allen Embraces Life on and off the Court - Leo Sepkowitz - Bleacher Report