While we look to bring you unbiased NBA news, we will also look to show you why we are such huge fans of the NBA. Our editor, Brian Ford, decided to chime in about tonight’s Celts/Heat game, what it means to him, his relationship with Ray Allen, and the city of Boston.
Every Celtics’ opener comes with a tradition. Out comes the Larry Bird jersey, put away from the previous spring. Then I take a look at all 82 games on the schedule, and decide what the Celtics record will be.(For those wondering, I’m thinking 56-26 as long as they stay healthy.)
As I’ve discuss before, the Celtics are a lifeblood in my life, but also within the city of Boston. As a Boston sports fan, I will be the first to tell you we are assholes. We are irrational, overconfident, over dramatic, and flat out annoying at times. However, all of those qualities come from a loyalty that has been bred into us by past generations. A loyalty where muttering some certain names of athletes gets you the same look at dropping the “F bomb” does. A loyalty where when players come in they are treated as gold; and when they come out, well, they are dragged through the mud. That is why tonight has much more riding on it than in the past. Ray Allen may not factor into the outcome of the game in the way Rajon Rondo, Lebron James or Dwyane Wade do, but he will be on every fans mind.
When the Allen to Miami signing happened, I immediately had two reactions. The logistical NBA fan in me didn’t blame him at all. Yes, he didn’t make as much money, but now Ray gets to stand in the corner and accept passes from two of the best players in the world all while getting another shot for a title. Not having to play as many minutes or run through as many screens lengthens his career and gives him more stability for him and his family in the future. Plus, who wouldn’t want to play with Lebron James? When you are playing pickup, there is always one guy who stands out. Who just makes it fun to play basketball. He scores, but he also gets everyone involved, and makes you play tougher D. Now imagine seeing that opportunity, and getting paid to do it. Oh by the way, you get to do that in Miami beach half the year. Do you really blame Ray?
Beyond that, Ray had been tossed around as the third(even fourth if you include Rondo) star in Boston. He was constantly on the trading block in the past couple years, and even was told by Doc Rivers that he was traded to Memphis for O.J. Mayo before the deal ultimately fell through. If your employer told you time and time again their were more important pieces, and you were expendable, would you want to stay there? Or would you go to a new flashy company whose office is on the beach and just won a bunch of awards? It’s pretty tough to pass up.
I walked away from the signing feeling okay, and felt even better after reading his Globe passage. I felt EVEN better after the Terry and Lee signings and still do. (In my mind, the Celtics are a better basketball team than last year. As I spoke about in the preseason rankings, Terry is a more dynamic option on offense, and Lee is a better defender. While Ray brought alot, those two together bring more.) So where did Ray start to go sour on me? When I rewatched game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals from last year.
I know, I know. Who watches a painful memory like that over again? But I had to see for myself if it was going to be different this year. And I realized, it is. Ray couldn’t get open in some big stretches in the fourth, and Rondo was forced to pound the ball. The more the shot clock winds down, the better the Heat get, as you are forced to take on some of the fastest defenders in the world one-on-one. Anyone not named Rajon Rondo last year on the Celtics had the ability to do it in Game 7(either because of talent or health), and the Celtics wilted. With guys like Terry, Lee and Jeff Green, plus a healthy Pierce, our offense looks better.
So why did I get mad? Because Ray punked out. The best quality of an athlete is wanting to become better. And alot of times to become better, you have the beat the best. The Miami Heat are the best. So while Rondo, KG, Pierce(and even Terry, who has taken on such a Boston mantra that it’s almost too much, but I love it anyway) stewed about the losses in Game 6 and 7, Ray thought about switching sides. Ultimately, it was easier for him to join the winner than to beat the winner. That’s why Boston fans are mad. For the same reason people hated Lebron for joining the Heat, Celtic’s fans have turned on Ray. How could he join the champs, the team that just knocked us out for the 2nd straight year, after you spent the past five years building basketball in Boston again. You were the first piece in that 2007 draft. You convinced Garnett to come play here. You won your first and only title here. You made the Celtics relevant within the NBA and within Boston again. So why walk away from that?
Ray’s legacy will be tarnished in Boston. Over time, we’ll forgive. People have already started to forgive Johnny Damon, and it’s not as if Ray was on a Tom Brady or Paul Pierce type level with fans. But this year is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt to see him where the black and red of the Heat, and it’s definitely going to hurt when he hit threes in the Garden and it’s just a subdued “Ray Allen” instead of “RAAAYYYYY AALLEEEEENNN FOR THREEE!”. Two days before the signing, I bought a plaque commemorating Ray’s record breaking three pointer. It was one of my favorite Celtics moment’s of the past decade, and he did it against the Lakers’ no less. I figured “this will be good karma, he’ll stay.” I haven’t thrown away that plaque, but it’s not hung up either. I honestly don’t know what to do with it. And to be honest, Ray’s actions this year might make the decision for me.
So yes Ray, I get it. It made sense for you to go to Miami. You’ll have a blast, lengthen your career, and have a better chance at a title. I don’t think you made the wrong decision for yourself. Just know that I won’t be making the wrong decision for myself when I “BOO” tonight every time you touch the ball. Because you’ll never receive the loyalty down in Miami that you would have received here in Boston.
Make sure to follow @picknpopdiaries during tonight’s games, and until next time an amazing NBA YouTube clip: