It's the woman who wonders about her marriage — not who she married, but how. Whether she shouldn't have just fallen into it, but rather made him chase her. Made him think about how much he wanted her before they were into the grind of cleaning dishes, fixing the car, living a life where they're a good fit but hardly ever enamored by how well they go together.
It's the worker who leaves a job he loves enough, packing up his knickknacks for a place where his talents won't be taken as a given anymore. The new boss will be surprised that he is amazing, and his abilities will no longer be a way to compensate for the failures of others — they'll be able to stand on their own.
It's the churchgoer who stops visiting the chapels and making his tithes, volunteering at the food pantries and sacrificing self for a good he hopes is greater. He'd like the church to come after him, but because he's a decent man of firm belief, he had kept giving to a place that knew it could bank on his loyalty. Until, one day, the charade was enough.
We all want to be pursued.
We all want our bosses to act like they want us around, our significant others to treat us like we're the fulfillment of a life's chase, our centers of faith and charity to appreciate our sacrifice.
And maybe that's why, as Celtics fans continue to smart over Ray Allen ditching loyalty and legacy for a team seen as the devil incarnate, we needn't wonder why he would do it. Ray got a chance to answer back at the frustration we all feel in life, when doing right and taking the high road doesn't seem to reward.
Several accounts have surfaced that explain why Allen would be allegedly traitorous to the city that made him relevant again and gave him championship glory. Adrian Wojnarowski gives vivid details of the inside of the Celtics locker room, from the now-known conflicts with Rajon Rondo all of the way to Allen having to take correction and a diminished role from players far below his stature. Allen's beef extended beyond his teammates, with whom he continued to play well until the final moments. Celtics trade guru Danny Ainge appeared to have poked Allen one too many times in thinking about unloading him partway through the season to clear cap space. The dangling left Allen feeling less than valued — unwanted and underappreciated.
By the time the Celtics were chasing Kevin Garnett hard in the offseason, with Avery Bradley's shoulders the only things that seemed to keep Allen on the floor and not completely irrelevant as a player anymore, Allen had had enough. No talented player wants to be on a team that seems to be revealing he's hardly the third best in a Big Three — that he was a Chris Bosh in importance among LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. No former star wants to be turned into a one-trick pony, where he's treated as a 3-point specialist, like some kind of Robert Horry or Mike Miller. No legend wants to feel like his team is keeping him around because they can't give up on the marketing ploy of three legends, when every sign they're sending one of those players — who was, and could still be, a legend — is that they don't see him as essential anymore.
Allen wouldn't have been a huge part of the Celtics' attack moving into the future, and he knew it. He knew he was quickly losing any influence he had, and any seniority over the interchangeable players who would chip into his role. He knew he would be asked to give it up for the team more than ever — more than he thought his co-champions, Garnett and Paul Pierce, had ever had to — and he called an end to it. The man who had sacrificed so much, who had been a living example of the "good teammate" cliche, decided that if he was going to summon the strength for more seasons of recovery, practice and otherworldly sacrifice, he was going to do it where he was wanted.
He wanted to be pursued.
Allen will deal with the ire of Celtics fans, and perhaps the deterioration of his legacy, for his choice. But is he really the one to blame here? Is anyone else tired of Ainge having nothing to do with his time but put his best players on the meat market for other teams to salivate and barter over? That man can take just as much blame for Boston lapses over recent seasons, as he's continually messed with Rondo's head and made his cornerstone players feel expendable. Yes, a trade may be a good idea once in a while. But the constant feeling that Ainge is trying to clear cap space when his roster is full of guys who are worth their pay has to be depressing for the players. It's one thing to move to Jermaine O'Neal. It's another to have Rondo and Allen on pins and needles.
Allen also can't be blamed for not feeling like the chief priority in the offseason. The Celtics had to go after Garnett first, of course, and Allen would have been unlikely to return without him. But a little cushioning of Allen's ego couldn't have hurt the cause. And all of this bending over backwards for Jeff Green? Really? The guy had heart surgery last year and has spent mere minutes in a Celtics uniform. The headlines would have you thinking that Green was as big of a piece for the C's as Allen. The Celtics also put considerable time into wooing Brandon Bass and chasing Jason Terry. No wonder Allen was happy to listen to a Miami team that said he was its first free agent priority. Pat Riley and the Heat knew their sales pitch wouldn't be about James, Wade and Bosh — it would be about Allen, and what he could get and could be.
The Celtics played both sides in this situation, and they would have won either way. Keep Allen, and they're happy, because they kept the image of a happy Big Three, riding toward another championship. Lose Allen, and they're also happy, because this combination of players was doomed to cause fissures eventually. The Celtics had to choose between a bitter offseason and a possible locker room eruption in the middle of a championship chase. Do you think they're unhappy this all is happening now?
Allen may look like he's spurning team and city for himself, but really, in his departure, he's once again being a class act. If anything, the Celtics should be faulted for the way this ending has come down. If all reports are true, they didn't pursue Allen the way they should have. They didn't make him feel wanted, and they didn't treat him with the preeminence he deserves for what he's done for Boston. Even if his skills are deteriorating and he no longer has a role on the team, the Celtics should have been honest with him. Instead, they left him hanging at the mercy of the fans. If he leaves, he's vilified. If he stays, he becomes a shell of the man he once was and watches his legacy evaporate into bench minutes and occasional big shots.
Losing Allen is a hard pill to swallow, and losing him to Miami is worse still. But if all the conjecture is true, then perhaps Celtics fans need to ask different questions.
How would you feel in this situation? Wouldn't you want to be pursued?
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