Ray Allen just doesn’t get it.
The sharpshooter hit arguably the most important shot of his career last June, saving Miami’s repeat title hopes by hitting the game-tying 3-pointer in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the NBA Finals. His Miami Heat went on to win the game, and then the series, giving Allen his second NBA championship.
Even so, the former Celtics guard is still complaining about Boston.
Allen’s decision to leave via free agency was highly controversial, and it appears the bitterness between Allen and his former comrades still lingers.
In a conversation with the Boston Herald on Saturday, Allen revealed that former Celtic teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers haven’t spoken to him since his departure from Boston more than a year ago.
“They haven’t spoken to me,” Allen said. “For them to be so upset with me is disappointing because of how everything happened. That banner in 2008 is still going to be there, and we’re still going to be tied to it.”
Allen isn’t wrong about that part, but the comments continued.
“Look, I have a feeling they were in the same predicament I was in this summer,” he said. “Even with Doc, he had to make a decision that was best for himself. I was in the same situation. I’m happy they were put into the same situation as I was. Anytime you get traded, there’s no telling where you could end up. They’re in a situation now where they can contend. Kevin had to make that decision, and that was the predicament I was in.”
That last line is the problem, something Allen doesn’t understand.
“I got heavily criticized by each one of them the minute I left. They were upset,” Allen continued. “But the writing was on the wall for us. [Celtics management] was saying, ‘Hey, we’re moving in a different direction.’ And each one of us had to make that choice. Where can we go to be successful and continue to play good basketball.”
And therein lies the fatal flaw in Allen’s logic.
It’s no secret that Pierce, Garnett and Rivers preach loyalty, and after pushing Miami — arguably Boston’s most bitter rival during this version of the Big Three’s era — to the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals weeks before Allen left, the consensus was that the team would give it one more go.
So when Allen decided to leave, it was treachery.
“I was curious to see how it [Pierce and Garnett's decision to leave Boston] was received in the NBA and the people in Boston. In my opinion it was the same scenario,” he said. “I wasn’t upset with any of those guys, because it was their right. You have to make the choices you feel are best for your situation. That’s why I was so disappointed in the reaction to me, because those guys know what it takes.”
The problem, though, was that Allen left a year early. Sure, Pierce, Garnett and Rivers left the team, but their loyalty to the Celtics franchise gave president of basketball operations Danny Ainge the chance to trade away his aging, valuable assets and receive something to help the rebuilding club going forward. He even managed to get compensation for his coach.
Allen could have stayed, and he had every reason to — Boston offered him more money, his daughter plays volleyball nearby at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and his diabetic son received such terrific care from Boston area hospitals that Allen agreed to do commercials supporting and promoting their programs.
But Allen abandoned his brothers in green, crossing over to the dark side and joining Miami’s enemy forces.
He’s not the first Boston athlete to win a championship before leaving for the enemy. Johnny Damon’s departure from the Red Sox to the Yankees — just a year removed from his two-home run, six-RBI performance during Game 7 in the Sox’ historical 2004 ALCS comeback against New York — comes to mind.
Damon at least embraced his decision and expected the boos. It also helped that he didn’t win anything with New York until his fourth season there, let alone during his first year in the Bronx. The Red Sox, too, had already won again without him in 2007.
Of course, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” as the old adage goes. Maybe Pierce, Garnett and Rivers missed that memo.
“There’s a difference between perception and reality,” Allen argued. “I don’t think anybody wants to go. None of us wanted to go.”
No, Ray, you did want to go. It’s time to stop talking, polish your ring and start dealing with it.