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Lucius Allen is a player's player; making others better is his priority
A Team Player
By Mark Miller, Full Court Press

IN SOME WAYS, little has changed for Lucius Allen since he helped the Milwaukee Bucks win their lone National Basketball Association title in 1971.

Back then, he was learning the game from teammates and future Hall-of-Famers Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Today, he's still asking for advice about his job, only this time, it's from his wife Eve. Allen has been a marketing and sales manager for pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb's Los Angeles office for the past six years. His spouse, who's been with the company 12 years, is rated about three levels above him.

The couple not only finds time to work together, but also raise a family. Older sons Kahlil and Bakir followed their father into basketball at the college level. Younger children Geoffrey, 5, and Jared, 3, might some day do the same, although Allen wishes they had different heroes.

"They each want to be Kobe Bryant," said Allen, 50, between signing autographs March 22 during the Bucks' 30th anniversary celebration at the Bradley Center. "It used to be Michael Jordan, but now it's Kobe. Hopefully, they can follow in the footsteps of all of us."

Flashback to the '70s
The only time the younger Allens have seen their father play is in horse games at home. What they missed was a sweet-shooting, lightning-quick, 6-2, 175-pound guard who played 10 years for four teams, winning the one NBA title and coming close two other times.

Some of the best memories from that career happened here in Milwaukee, where former Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette nicknamed Allen "The Jackrabbit." Some of those memories came back during March's festivities.

"The fans here were just the greatest fans in the world," he said.

"I don't remember paying for many meals here in Milwaukee. The warmth of the people always was a big thing. I always enjoy coming back.

"I remember the camaraderie we had with the team, even though we had a lot of different personalities. We put that aside when we were all on the floor."

Allen came to Milwaukee on Sept. 17, 1970 from Seattle with Bob Boozer in return for Don Smith and cash. A teammate of Abdul-Jabbar's (then Lew Alcindor) on the famed UCLA NCAA title teams in the late 1960s, he was the Supersonics' first-round draft choice in 1969 and averaged 9.8 points in 81 games his rookie year.

Vital title team member
Initially with the Bucks, Allen was the first guard off the bench, spelling Robertson and Jon McGlocklin. He averaged 7.1 points in 61 regular-season games and the same in 14 playoff contests as the Bucks won their lone championship.

As his playing time rose dramatically, so did his scoring average. It climbed to 13.5 in 1971-72 in 80 games and to 15.5 in 80 games in 1972-73. Allen was averaging 17.6 points in 33 minutes of 72 games the following season when he tore knee cartilage on March 15, 1974.

He missed the rest of the season and watched as the Bucks fell one game short of another title, this time to the Boston Celtics.

He returned to form to start the 1974-75 campaign, averaging 16.7 points in the Bucks' first 10 games. Then on Nov. 8, 1974, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Jim Price. Allen played 56 games with the Lakers the rest of that season and averaged 19.5 points per game, but the team failed to make the playoffs.

Abdul-Jabbar rejoined his old college and pro teammate in Los Angeles in 1975, but the Lakers still didn't advance to postseason action. Allen did his best with a 14.7 average in 76 games. He followed with a 14.6 mark in 78 games in the ensuing season, when the Lakers lost to eventual champion Portland in the Western Conference Finals.

Traded to KC
That would mark the end of Allen's career with his hometown Lakers. On June 1, 1977, he was traded to the Kansas City (now Sacramento) Kings for Ollie Johnson and future draft choices. He played 77 games in 1977-78 and averaged 11.9 points. The following season, he played only 31 games and averaged 5.1 points before an injury ended his season. On Oct. 8, 1979, the Kings waived him.

After retirement, Allen worked five years for Columbia Savings and Loan in Los Angeles. "I used my contacts with agents and players and invested their dollars," he said. "I was not a stockbroker, but a money manager."

Allen later formed his own construction company, which performed a lot of government, county and state work. "It did very, very well until the savings and loan industry, where I was getting most of my loans from, failed," he said.

He also worked part-time as analyst for Kings games in the franchise's final year in Kansas City (1984-85) and first three in Sacramento. "Having that time made my retirement a lot easier," he said. "I could stay close with basketball, which is my first love."

Allen has remained close to the game he loves as a long-time Lakers and UCLA season ticketholder and through his older sons. Kahlil graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 1996 and now attends law school. Bakir, an honorable-mention All-American at the University of California-Santa Barbara, graduated in 1997. He hopes to play in Australia and later the NBA.

Disturbed by trend
What Allen's seen from his older sons' generation and the players his youngest sons idolize disturbs him. "When I was with the Bucks, we had a common thread to do whatever it took to get it done," he said. "It seems like throughout the NBA today, it's two-on-two games.

"I don't see one player making everyone else better. Now it's more selfish. The younger players have to open up to suggestions from players who have experienced this game, like Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.

"It's difficult to communicate with today's players with the earnings the way they are. It can happen through the Players Association - have events like this where we can meet some of the younger players and tell them what it takes to win. "The players have to ask what they can do to enhance basketball; not what basketball can do for them."

Besides his recent time in Milwaukee, Allen also attended the 25th anniversary celebration in 1993 when Abdul-Jabbar's No. 33 was retired. Both trips gave him the chance to reminisce about the old days and an old building.

"These newfangled arenas are nice," he said. "The Bradley Center is really a nice place, but they have to build a tradition here. We didn't let people come into the Arena and win."

Must have been something he learned from his old mentors.

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