By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Since he came to Boston, Ray Allen has often been viewed as the third cog in Boston's Big Three machine despite being viewed by many as one of the greatest shooters to ever play in the NBA.
Let's face it.
Three is a good number for Allen.
So it's only fitting that it's the 3-point shot that gives Allen his best shot at basketball immortality.
The 6-foot-5 guard's assault on the NBA's record books for 3-pointers made is just about complete.
Against the Bobcats Monday, he needed four more to pass Reggie Miller as the league's all-time leader. He hit two in the Celtics' 94-89 loss in Charlotte, so will have a very good chance at capturing the record when the Lakers visit Boston on Thursday.
Bobcats coach and former Celtics player Paul Silas, was well aware of how close Allen was to achieving the NBA mark for most career 3-pointers made.
"We'll give him three tonight," Silas quipped before the game. "But not four. He's not going to get that record on us. But he'll get it."
Allen has made at least two 3-pointers in each of Boston's last 10 games. During that span, he had four games in which he made three, 3-pointers, and two others in which he connected on four.
"Ray is undoubtedly one of the greatest shooters to ever come through this league," said Silas, who added, "He'll be a Hall of Famer. That's pretty awesome."
Players and coaches who have watched Allen throughout here are unanimous in their belief that his greatness as a shooter in part involves an unparalleled focus on preparation.
"His work ethic is something I try to emulate," Dallas' Jason Terry told CSNNE.com.
Terry, ranked eighth all-time among 3-pointers made, points to Allen and the all-time leader, Reggie Miller, as players he has looked up to.
"We know who the pioneer was for our era; it was Reggie Miller," Terry said. "He set the bar. And now Ray Allen has raised that bar. His longevity, the way he has been able to do it, and for how long he's been doing it for, I want to continue to do that. Once Allen leaves, hopefully I'll just slide right on in."
Before he could get to Allen, he has to pass one of his Mavericks teammates, Jason Kidd, who ranks third all-time.
Kidd's inclusion near the top of the list might seem a bit odd when you consider the big knock on him coming out of college was that he couldn't shoot from the perimeter.
"That would probably be a good trivia question. Who was in the top 3?" Kidd told CSNNE.com. "My name would probably never be mentioned. But I've worked at it, and I'm proud to have made some."
So has Allen, whose date with basketball immortality will be upon us very soon.
And for players like Terry who hope to someday break his record?
Because Allen, even at 35 years of age, has shown no signs of slowing down.
"It's a tribute to all the work that he puts in," said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "He's playing better now than he has the last two years, which to me is incredible. To have him playing the way he is, at his age and as many years as he's been in the league, is incredible. It's a tribute to him and his work ethic."