Person after person, alum after alum, player after player, everyone kept coming up to Jerome Allen. Allen spent over an hour shaking hands, giving hugs, putting on beaming smiles that lit up the Palestra late at night.
It seemed like the welcome a political candidate gets at a campaign event or the reaction a celebrity gets walking into a room of adoring fans.
But this was not after a championship victory. Heck, it was not after a victory.
After a blowout loss at the hands of Princeton, Allen was given a welcome by the Penn basketball community that one normally gets after a win, simply because it was his last game.
All of it was well deserved. Allen himself admitted that his tenure as Penn basketball coach didn’t go as he would have liked, but tonight was not about wins and losses. Tonight’s loss blends in with the rest of the Quakers’ Ivy losses this season, with similar flaws being exposed.
Normally after a game, even losses, Allen and the players will hang out near the court for a little while, talking with fans, family and alumni. But this was something else.
Everyone from Allen’s past came out of the woodwork to attend this final game, showing the man who has given his all to the Penn program the requisite love he deserves.
Allen’s wife and children were there. Teammates, fellow Penn alums, former players, family of his current players, everyone surrounding Allen for over an hour after the game to pay homage to Allen. Players, family, all handing Allen letters and gifts to the departing coach.
Even Fran Dunphy, Allen’s former coach and mentor, was at the Palestra, waiting longer than most to shake hands with his star pupil.
But what was most impressive on Tuesday night was not the outpouring of support. After all Allen has meant to the program, particularly during his four years as a player, there was no way the Penn basketball community would give him anything but the fondest of farewells.
What was most impressive was how Allen handled himself. For a man who just had his job taken away, he kept his head up high, wore a smile with ease and gave out handshakes like a point guard dishes out assists.
It honestly shouldn’t come as a surprise: Allen, after all, has preached nothing but selflessness and has been the first to practice what he preaches. Assistant coach Mike Lintulahti said that Allen was someone who would literally give you the shirt off his back. While he didn’t quite do that, he did offer someone a ride home, continuing to look out for others even when all eyes were looking to him.
In the end, it was the classy move that puts Allen’s dismissal in perspective. While many have been calling for his firing with reckless abandon, he is still a man with a family and someone who would do anything for others. Allen’s postgame actions were the perfect example of him as a person.
Many of those going up to him told Allen they were sorry about his dismissal and asked what they could do for him. But as he told everyone, Allen will be fine.
“I truly believe I’m being pushed into the next season of my life,” Allen said in the postgame press conference. “Wherever I’m coaching at, I know that Penn has helped me prepare for the next opportunity.
The result on the court isn’t what anyone around the program would have hoped for, similar to much of the last few seasons. That doesn't change Allen as a person and that’s why there will always be the support there was today for the now former Penn basketball head coach.Comments powered by Disqus
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