By Mark McCormick, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
A pronounced sadness has hit the city of Boston with the departure of Ray Allen, the NBA’s all- time leader in 3-point field goals made. While not devastating (please don’t lose hope C’s fans), the loss of such a fine player both on and off the count will linger for quite some time. Allen, 37 years young, is well past his “prime” but is still in superior cardiovascular shape compared to the majority of his peers – he never stops moving without the basketball, a lost art in the modern game. Who is the first guy out at the pre-game shoot around? You guessed it, the guy who sports a 90% plus free throw percentage and 45% overall field goal percentage for his career while others practice dunks and completely ignore fundamentals. Ray struggled in last year’s playoffs but who could blame him? He was playing on one good ankle, had a young buck breathing down his neck, and could not be nearly as mobile as he was accustomed to being. And apparently Ray was playing with friends and foes alike? (#9 please stand and please mature quickly, you’re too great not to)
What happened here? Where did it all go wrong and why am I even forced to write this article? This was not how this script was intended to end for this fairy tale; we have been spoiled with this loveable group of characters and now it is a team that is transforming into something different. When did the team who was deemed the big three of savvy vets, that all endured some sense of disappointment in their respective careers before coming to Boston lose the priority of having each other’s backs? Allen struggled to make it to the playoffs most years with Glen “Big Dog” Robinson back in Milwaukee and played on a brutally lackluster team in Seattle who never had a shot of anything resembling greatness. Garnett was mired in a losing tradition in Minnesota for years giving the city everything that he had before shipping up to Beantown. And Pierce may have tolerated the most difficult situation out of all three, with his past decade plus in Boston filled with ups and downs and wanna-be sidekicks like Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer. From the top-down from Wyc Grousbeck to Danny to Doc, the Celtics are a class-A organization that conducts itself in the highest esteem, winning or losing. But when did we decide to stop playing nice and criticize one of the main contributors to our only championship in the last 25 years? Do we really forget that quickly because a guy struggles for a hot second? Where was Garnett and Pierce to rectify the issues in the locker room and prompt excitement and enthusiasm for next year with a LEGITIMATE shot of winning the championship?
Yes, everyone around us is getting better as the free agency frenzy is on but as we saw with the Thunder losing in five games in the NBA Finals to the unmentionables, talent can only take you so far. Cohesion is born in maturity and years logged. Throw in a little camaraderie and trust and your chance to succeed is established. I thought my boys had that in spades but I suppose one never knows what truly goes on behind closed doors.
One of the most compelling parts of this story is how will the fans react when Ray returns to the Gahden sporting our biggest adversaries’ cloak? My initial reaction when I heard the news: I hate you Ray Allen, I hate you! But after reconsidering, I was very wrong. While the reported signings of Jason Terry and Jeff Green dull the pain a bit, we will never see a player like Ray Allen again. Here are some of the top moments of Ray’s time in Boston. How should we react when he comes back? You be the judge.
1) NBA Finals Vs. Lakers, June 2008
Ray scored 26 points and nailed seven 3-pointers, leading the Celtics to the decisive win and his first championship.
2) Eastern Conference Semi Finals Vs. Chicago, May 2009
Number 34 poured in 51 points in a thrilling triple overtime loss to the Bulls. One of the best series I’ve ever seen and one of the grittiest performances in Celtics playoff history. His point total was three points shy of John Havliechek’s playoff scoring record of 54 points in a game.
3) NBA Finals Vs. Lakers, June 2010
Allen hit a Finals record eight 3-pointers and temporarily stole home court advantage away from the Lakers. The Celts went on to lose the series and Ray played a crucial part in keeping the series competitive to a game seven.
4) 3-point King, February 2011
Ray became the 3-point king this past season, passing Reggie Miller who was announcing the game. The two legends shared a beautiful bro moment and hugged it out.
Ray’s legacy in Boston can be defined by one word: class. Class out the ass. Thank you Ray for everything you brought to our fair city, for being a consummate professional, and a damn good guy. Good luck and see you soon, my friend.