Return to Finals validates Allen's decision

Return to Finals validates Allen's decision
June 5, 2013, 6:30 pm
Share This Post

MIAMI — Nearly a year later, Ray Allen's decision to not re-sign with the Celtics is still one that gets under the skin of many in Celtics Nation.

When Allen made the decision, he said at the time that he was at peace with it.

And considering the Miami Heat are in the NBA Finals, where they will face the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 on Thursday, Allen acknowledged on Wednesday a sense of validation that he made the right decision.

"For me, I guess there is a little bit of vindication because being here is what my whole hopes were for doing last summer," Allen said.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade was among the Miami players lobbying hard last summer for Allen to sign with the Heat, well aware that such a decision wouldn't truly pay off for Allen unless the Heat got back to the NBA Finals.

"We're glad that he can sacrifice the way he did and take a lot of criticism as well to come and be a part of an organization, of a team, that he felt was special and that can really use his talents and his ability," Wade said. "And it worked. It worked out for him."

Shortly after leaving Boston as an unrestricted free agent to sign a three-year, $10 million deal with the Heat instead of the Celtics' more lucrative two-year,  $12 million contract offer, Allen made it clear that having a chance to compete for an NBA title was among the many factors that played a role in his decision.

Considering where he is now and how the Celtics season ended with a first-round exit to the New York Knicks, you won't find Allen playing the 'what if?...' game anytime soon.

"I looked at what this team, the potential of this team moving forward and the chances of being great, winning during the regular season and potentially winning a championship ... I felt I was in a great situation," Allen said.

It also didn't hurt that Allen would be playing with Rashard Lewis, one of his longtime and dearest friends in the NBA.

The two struck up a strong kinship when they were teammates in Seattle.

"It made the transition a lot easier for me, being able to play with a guy that I played with for almost nine seasons," Lewis told "He brings leadership to the team, on and off the court. That helps a lot."

And then there's that clutch factor that, just as much as the corner three-ball, in so many ways has defined Ray Allen's career.

Allen was among the Miami players who had struggled through the first six games. In that span, he shot 29.5 percent from the field and just 25.2 percent on threes.

But in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, it was a blistering 33-18 second quarter onslaught by the Heat that gave Miami control of the game as they cruised to a 99-76 victory.

In that second-quarter run, Allen had 10 points, which included a trifecta of three-pointers.

It was vintage Allen, delivering big shot after big shot when his team needed it.

Seeing those shots go down had been a familiar sight for five seasons in Boston, a tenure that included Allen becoming the NBA's all-time leader in made threes.

Still, that didn't stop the Celtics from giving serious thought on more than one occasion to trading him away, something that seemed to bother Allen more over time because he didn't really want to leave.

Still, like most NBA players, there's little a player can do to prevent a trade from going down short of a no-trade clause which only a handful of NBA players (Kevin Garnett is one of them) possess.

That feeling of helplessness was why this past summer was so important to Allen, with him having the final say as to what team he would play for this season.

Having control of his own destiny was an opportunity Allen cherished. Still, with that opportunity came the responsibility of finding a team that would meet his needs.

After weighing several factors, Miami made the most sense for Allen based on what he was searching for - another shot at winning an NBA title.

And as Allen has proven, sometimes that means walking away from a good situation for what you hope will be an even greater one.

"As you get older, you always look, you try to look at the situation a little bit closer," Allen said. "You step out on the limb."

And with that risk, Allen now finds himself four wins away from his gamble paying off.