For five years I would watch the Celtics and hope that this wasnt the year that Ray Allen gets old. Now I hope he ages faster than a German drinking from an imitation Holy Grail.
That is how quickly and completely he threw away the good will he compiled in his five seasons with the Celtics. There is no other way to describe what Ray Allen has done since the C's were ushered out of the playoffs in seven games by the Miami Heat. Remember how everyone thought Ray was just classy in defeat when he got all chummy with the Heat after the final whistle? Months later we realize it was all just convenient networking being done by an aging star who is too butt hurt to realize what his role is and that he isnt the same player he once was.
And come to think of it, was he ever really the player we thought he was in Boston?
You can call me bitter and my recollections revisionist, but I remember the Cs title run in 2008 having a heck of a lot more to do with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce than it did with Ray. In fact, I seem to recall Ray struggling mightily through the first two rounds of that postseason. It was so bad that even notorious Celtics rump swab and NBA expert Bill Simmons proposed renaming the Big Three to the Big Two featuring Ray Allen. To me, James Posey, Kendrick Perkins and even Rajon Rondo were more pivotal to that title run than Ray Allen, who, for those first two rounds, was lucky to avoid a copyright infringement claim by New England BrickMaster. When you get right down to the reality of that championship, Rays most important contribution to that team was being on it so KG would okay the trade from Minnesota. Come playoff time, Ray Allen was a supplementary player whose early shooting funk extended two series to seven games.
And, yes, I am bitter.
Look, Ill be completely objective. Ray Allen, when healthy and not out of rhythm, is the gold standard of NBA shooting. He has a stroke so pure its like a product of basketball reverse osmosis. And when you hear about all the shooting he does in practice and pregame, it makes sense that sometimes he looks like the living embodiment of NBA JAMs en fuego.
Unfortunately for Ray, his comments regarding his departure from Boston to Miami makes you wonder if he hasnt been stuck in Big Head mode for his entire career.
Everyone with half-a-brain knows why Ray Allen left to play for the Heat. He felt disrespected when he lost his job to Avery Bradley and he wants to win a title with Miami to stick it to Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge. And Id be fine with that if Ray just came out and said it. The revisionist history regarding his departure is staggeringly delusional. Over the course of his career, nobody paid Ray Allen more than Boston. The Celtics offered Ray more than twice the money Miami did in free agency. In Boston, Ray would actually be a legitimate part of the rotation, as opposed to being a sentimental jump-shooting mascot in Miami. If Ray finished his career in Boston, he would always be a part of the Celtics championship fraternity and revered by Cs fans. In Miami, Ray Allen is just the latest momentary distraction, like a reality TV star.
Ultimately, Honey Boo Hoo can cry all he wants about Boston not wanting him. But the fact of the matter is that Ray is in Miami because he wants to prove Doc and Danny wrong and, at 37, he needs LeBron, Wade and Bosh to do it.
Even if Allen was completely honest about it, hed still get most of the vicious booing he will receive when the Heat come to the Garden. You cant just jump ship mid-feud to your chief conference rival and not expect major, Lohan-esque PR damage. Compare Rays departure with that of another former Boston player with a Jesus association. Johnny Damon singlehandedly crushed the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Then in 2005 Johnny Damon left for more money with the Yankees. When he left town, he was honest and made it clear it was about money, nothing else. The booing Damon got upon his return to Fenway was raw and savage. What do you think is going to happen to a red-and-black clad Ray Ray?
Its a shame it played out this way. Its a shame that an aging Hall of Famer allowed pride to influence the way he ended his career. Instead of re-signing with Boston and joining the ranks of green legends, Ray Allen chose to play for the Heat out of petty anger and spite.
He chose poorly.