How to treat Ray Allen as a Celtics fan
Ray Allen is leaving the Boston Celtics. He’s off to South Beach to play alongside Lebron James and the Miami Heat. That much we know.
What we don’t know is what kind of reaction that Ray Allen will get from the Boston faithful when he makes his first return to the Garden at some point this season.
On one hand, the memories associated with Ray Allen for Boston Celtics fans are numerous. He was loved for his professionalism, mostly associated with the fact that he had the same routine every game-day, showing up hours early to the arena in order to get his pre-game shoot-around in. This attention to detail is what made him the greatest three-point shooter of all time and made him one of the most sure things that the Celtics have had since Larry Bird once walked the parquet floor. Whenever the Celtics needed a big three point shot, it was Doc Rivers drawing up the play for Ray Allen. From the game winners, to the record setting performance in the Finals, to that face he always put on when he was hot, everything about Ray Allen was loveable and professional.
Another big part of that was his persona off the court. He never really said anything really controversial or damaging. He just went about and did his thing. His son was suffering from juvenile diabetes and Ray was always appearing in the community in his fight to help find a cure. During Celtics’ home games, everyone loved seeing shots of Ray’s mom in the crowd cheering for her son in a bedazzled Celtics jersey and yelling at referees who she did not agree with.
Finally, despite being the third member of the Celtics Big Three 2.0, he was never overlooked. Kevin Garnett was the loud emotional sergeant taking the front lines in every battle. Paul Pierce was the confident captain who led his troops. Ray Allen was sort of the quiet Lieutenant who never made a big deal about everything, but always led by example on and off the court. Nobody ever forgot about Ray Allen despite what seemed like Ray Allen’s desire to sometimes be the forgotten one.
For all those reasons and more, Ray Allen should always be revered and honored as a Celtics’ great. One day, there will be Ray Allen night at the TD Garden (or more likely, Big Three night) and his number will be retired into the Garden rafters along with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
But, something seems dark and shady about his latest decision. His choice to go to Miami reeks.
Always the consummate professional, Ray Allen has come off more like a soft shelled turtle during the last week of rumors and news. There was talk that his poor relationship with point-guard Rajon Rondo was a big part about why Ray bolted to Miami, that Ray was angry about his new role as a bench scorer with the emergence of Avery Bradley. He was made that the Boston Celtics almost traded him to Memphis at the trade-deadline and angry that teammates would suggest that Avery Bradley should start over him. For a guy that always stressed that basketball is a business, he certainly didn’t seem like a guy that could grasp that concept.
Then, just when Boston Celtics fans thought they had seen enough of the dark side of Ray Allen, he decides to head to the team that can only be the Celtics greatest rivals in the Eastern Conference right now, the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat despite the Boston Celtics offering him more money and the same role the Heat were offering to stay in Boston and retire as a member of the Boston Celtics. It just seems wrong for him to do this.
So how should Boston Celtics fans receive Ray Allen whenever he makes his trip to Boston? A lot depends on the next few days. Soon, Ray Allen will have his first career press-conference as a member of the Miami Heat when they introduce him as it’s newest member. With everything that has come out in the past few days, Ray Allen should be asked about the Miami pitch to him, about his relationship with Rajon Rondo and the Celtics front-office and why he eventually made the choice to head down to Miami. Ultimately, how he answers that will determine the reaction that Ray Allen will get.
Even though most Boston Celtics knew that Ray Allen was as good as gone for a couple of weeks now, today hurts because it goes deeper than Ray Allen. For two years now, fans have anticipated the end of the Big Three 2.0 era in Boston, but a magical run through this year’s playoffs have changed the attitude in Boston. Most everyone now seems to think the window is open, albeit slightly, but still open. All it took was a retooling effort, and this core group of Celtics would be able to make one last run for the third straight year. Somehow, that last sentence makes perfect sense.
The heart of Kevin Garnett will still be there, the awesome randomness and grace of Rajon Rondo will still be there and the face of Paul Pierce will still be there, but Ray Allen will be gone, being cheered on by fans in another city.
The window is still open, but the Big Three 2.0 era is officially over.