Late last night one of my favorite Boston athletes informed team officials that he was joining the dark side. Of course, here I’m referring to Ray Allen who after five years with the Boston Celtics has decided to chase a ring and join the world champion Miami Heat for the final days of his NBA career. Allen, who won a championship with the Boston Celtics during the 2007-2008 season (his first year in Celtic green) will now fill the role that Mike Miller played for the Heat last season as a pure shooter used to stretch the court. He almost assuredly will provide more of an impact over the course of the year than Miller’s 6 points per game over the 2011-2012 regular season.
Ray Allen has been one of my favorite players his entire basketball playing career. I remember as a kid watching him play at the University of Connecticut with Travis Knight, Kevin Ollie, and Donny Marshall and him leaving just before Richard Hamilton and my man Jake Voskuhl got there. At the time, UConn hoops was on CBS almost every weekend in the New England area, and you couldn’t help but notice the incredible talent that Jim Calhoun brought to that school. Even when Ray was drafted with the fifth pick of the 1996 NBA Draft and then immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephon Marbury I still remained a fan of his. One day I even bought the purple #34 Bucks jersey with his name on it.
Ray Allen played six seasons with the Bucks with the 2000-2001 season being his brightest with the team. That year he won the 3-point shootout during All-Star weekend, was selected to the All-NBA third team, and led his team (along with former Nole Sam Cassell and former Boilermaker Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson) to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to Allen Iverson and the 76ers in a tough seven game series. Halfway through the 2002-2003 season, Allen was traded to the Seattle Supersonics along with Ronald Murray, Kevin Ollie, and a first round draft pick in exchange for Gary “The Glove” Payton and Desmond Mason.
While in Seattle Allen only made the playoffs once, during the 2004-2005 season. Playing out west wasn’t all bad for him though, as he continued his incredible run of three-pointers made and on April 7, 2006 he moved into second place on the NBA’s all-time list of three pointers made (which he would eventually break in Boston). He also broke the record for most 3-point field goals made in a season during the 2005-2006 season. Allen averaged over 23 points per game his entire time in Seattle and was their leading weapon offensively during his tenure there. He also scored a career high 54 points in a game against the Jazz during the 2006-2007 season, but shortly after he missed the remainder of the year after having ankle surgery on both ankles.
After his time in Seattle, Ray was traded to my team and I instantly became an even bigger fan of his. On June 28, 2007, the night of the 2007 NBA Draft, the Sonics traded Ray Allen and Glen “Big Baby” Davis (the 35th pick of that draft) to the Celtics in exchange for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and the fifth overall pick of that draft, Jeff Green. Three days later the Celtics made another blockbuster trade, acquiring Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Bassy Telfair, Gerald Green, cash, and a couple of first-round draft picks. The rest is history, and as you know these moves did end up resulting in one championship for the Celtics.
As I mentioned before, #20 gave five of his best years to the city of Boston and to the Celtics organization. On February 10, 2011 he became the all-time leader in career 3-pointers made, passing Pacers’ legend Reggie Miller with his 2,562 money-ball (which you can see below). Ray was always good for about 16 points per game during his Celtics tenure, but they always felt like the most important points of the game. Of the 798 3’s he hit for the C’s, I can’t remember too many of them in blowout games, most of them coming when the team desperately needed a big shot from a clutch player. Ray was the kind of player the Celtics could always count on, so it hit me pretty damn hard last night to find out he was leaving.
Allen will be accepting a deal worth just over $3 million dollars for each of the next couple seasons to play for the Heat. The Celtics were offering him double that, but his reported disgruntled relationship with Rajon Rondo, plus the fact that he would be behind Avery Bradley and Jason Terry on the depth chart were enough to convince him to leave town. To Pat Riley’s credit, he apparently gave an incredible sales pitch to Allen, so Ray will be joining the dark side and won’t be getting cheered in Boston anytime in the near future.
When I told a friend last night of the development she offered three words about the move, “I’m so disappointed”. I couldn’t say it any better myself. Disappointment is the perfect reaction to this deal and the fact that the best pure shooter in the history of basketball has decided to leave the most historic franchise the sport has ever known. #20 was a fan favorite in Boston, as I’m sure he will be to the dozen or so true fans of the Miami Heat, and I’m still sad to see him go. Knowing that this move was most likely coming still didn’t damper my reaction to it last night, as it ruined my night, and honestly this entry is still hard to write as it all starts to sink in even deeper. As much I love watching Ray play, until the day he leaves South Beach he will always be public enemy number one, and that’s just truly unfortunate.
Rest in peace, Jesus Shuttlesworth. Welcome to the dark side, Ray Allen. The next time I’ll cheer for you is the day you get inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Hopefully that night Kevin Garnett will have one more ring on his finger than you do. Thanks for five great years, sorry it has to end this way.