By now, it is far from new news that Ray Allen has decided to ‘turn his back’ on the Boston Celtics to join the current NBA Champion Miami Heat. And while there is a great deal of outrage, there is a narrative in which his decision is defensible:
He returned from an injury to find his starting role occupied, and later was informed he’d been traded until complications prevented the Celtics from moving the 36 year old 3 Point King. Hurt, and feeling unwanted the ten time All-Star knew there was only one way to truly seek revenge on his disloyal employer – by joining it’s biggest* rival.
That particular narrative is both extremely oversimplified as well as shortsighted, but unfortunately, that’s the narrative Ray Allen chose to believe when he decided to team up with proffessional sports’ greatest traitor to feel wanted. A player who announced on national television, without regard to a city who worshiped and economically depended on him, and a Team President whose only loyalty is to his hair product. They’re the people Ray Allen turned to provide that loving touch.
It defies logic, but I’m afraid it’s logic that got us to this point.
Let’s return to the narrative that’ll undoubtedly be brought up in it’s simplest form over and over again this season.
1. The Celtics attempted to trade Ray Allen
2. The Celtics benched Ray Allen
Both of these things are undeniably true. And again, if you look at just those particular statements you can understand the shooting guard’s decision. But it’s important to remember context:
The day before the trade deadline the 24 win, 21 loss Boston Celtics agreed to trade Ray Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies for OJ Mayo ***, however complications in the trade prevented it from moving forward.
Including the Celtics record in the above link was no mistake. Treading the waters of mediocrity, the forever spoken of ‘championship window’ appeared to have been closed for the Celtics. Heading into an off season where they figured to have a great deal of salary cap money (with Allen and Kevin Garnett’s deals set to expire) it made sense to cash in on the remaining value of their aging veterans. Veterans, of course, being plural – as the Celtics not only agreed to trade Allen but were also extremely close to trading the face of the new era Celtics, fourteen year veteran, Paul Pierce to the Nets****. The Celtics were looking to rebuild, not because they wanted to, but because at that point in time it seemed like the only move to make.
Paul Pierce’s reaction to almost being traded from the only team he’s ever played for? Jokingly screaming “I’m still here! I’m still here!” to members of the media as the clock passed the deadline*****.
Despite not “blowing it up” – the Allen trade fell through, and he Nets foolishly opted to acquire Gerald Wallace – the Celtics organization had no reason to believe they’d be far above average until Allen was forced out of the lineup because of an injury to his 36 year old ankles.
While the team was somewhere around par with him in the lineup, the team transformed itself into a firey competitor who ripped off 5 straight wins concluding, ironically, in a 19 point Miami Heat beatdown. That’s not to say Allen was holding them down – he wasn’t – but his absence forced the Celtics to add the young, defensively antagonistic Avery Bradley into the starting lineup and it proved to be the shot in the arm the team needed. He was a defensive stalwart, a brilliant slasher offensively, and the first running mate Rajon Rondo may have ever had. He worked as a perfect compliment to the team.
Moving Allen to the bench was a logical decision: The team had responded tremendously to adding Bradley to the starting lineup, the bench desperately needed a scoring punch, and with an injury that was’t going away without season ending surgery, Allen needed his minutes limited. This was only proven by Allen’s play in the playoffs, where fatigue and pain made him an ineffective player. It wasn’t a Former All Star playing at 80% of his ability, more times than not, Allen hurt the team with his play******.
Logical decisions, that seem to have cut Ray Allen to his core. So much so, that he decided that simply leaving for the Heat wasn’t enough. No, he had to return to Boston, like a psychologically deragned soon to be ex-girlfriend to deliver a giant “F’ You.” No, two times the amount of money isn’t enough to have me stay – you’ll need to make it three times.
A spit in the face of an organization that only worked to try to keep themselves competitive. The money, it doesn’t matter. A fan base who doesn’t need their souvenirs to be discounted in order to show up on time, it doesn’t matter. A logical legacy that’d see his number retired next to Russell, Bird doesn’t matter. Heck, he could’ve taken the two hour drive from his Connecticut residence to see it raised. Maybe stop in at UConn for a quick chat with the players that have learned to identify him as a New England Legand. None of that matters. He was traded. He was benched.
Maybe they’ll love me when I fade to black.
*current rivals, clearly.
**with all due respect to former WWE Champion, and Cleveland Native The Miz
*** This didn’t work in the context of the article, but ultimately, this is a trade the Celtics would’ve benefited from. While Mayo has never lived up to his potential, he’s a serviceable player, and even if he wouldn’t have resigned he would’ve been a clear half-season upgrade over Ray who was mostly ineffective in the playoffs.
****I’m assuming Garnett would’ve been on the block too, but was essentially untradeable because of salary constraints
****** Paul. Pierce.
****** It’s important to note here that Allen playing was admirable, and the reason he continued on the court was that with a roster that had been decimated by injury, the Celtics needed literally anyone who was medically cleared to play basketball. But that doesn’t detract from my point. A man who could barely get up and down the court because of an injury was upset that he didn’t start over a young shooting guard who excelled in that position before injury