For Ray, It Wasn’t Business, It Was Personal

I completely understand why Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat.

He gets to go to a team that will contend for a championship every year for the rest of his career, his game is made easier for his aging legs as he’ll likely have many more open, spot-up jumpers with the Heat, and not running through multiple screens to get open. He’s going to Miami, where he can play golf year-round, and enjoy the weather and beaches for the final years of his Hall of Fame, lucrative NBA career.

Can’t argue with any of that. I don’t have any issue really, with his decision, other than the personal disappointment that he will now be with a team I can’t stand.

While I’m sure those items above were a big part of Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics and sign with the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons, it seems clear that the biggest factor in his decision was the chance to stick it to the Celtics.

I’m already tired of the “will Ray Allen get booed storyline” on sports talk radio and TV. At this point, I’m more interested in seeing what Danny Ainge does now to add to his backcourt. From a team standpoint, I’m not even all that broken up over losing him. The Celtics needed to move on at some point, and paying Ray Allen $12 million over the next two years seemed a bit too much. Hopefully Ainge can find a steal in the free agent market, someone who can contribute in ways that perhaps Ray couldn’t at this point in his career.

Ray Allen put in five very productive seasons for the Boston Celtics, and I appreciated him for it. All along though, I think we knew this was a guy who is wired a bit differently from certainly the rest of us, but even from most NBA players.

There were references to OCD, which given the strictness and thoroughness of his routines, was something that even Allen didn’t dismiss. I tend to think anyone who is wildly successful at what they do, especially if it is a specific skill has to be wired a bit differently from the rest of us, so it’s no reflection on character.

But what has been coming out since this news broke has been a series of alternately intriguing and head-scratching tales of  things that bothered Allen so much here in Boston that he chose to walk to the team that at the moment, is their biggest, and most hated rival for half of what the Celtics were offering to pay him.

Most of the material was provided by the peerless Adrian Wojnarowski, (Heat gave Ray Allen reason to again feel wanted) who wrote on Saturday about Allen:

He hated the way Ainge dangled him in trade talks, hated that the Celtics told him he was on his way to Memphis in a deal at the March deadline only to have Rivers later tell him the trade was dead. Allen hated that Rivers didn’t give him his starting job back after he returned from a late-season ankle injury, and hated that it always felt like he was the Celtics star made to sacrifice above the rest.

We had heard during the season that it was Ray’s idea that Avery Bradley start. Either it wasn’t true, or he changed his mind when he saw that Bradley could actually play and how that might impact his own future. Then there were the issues with Rondo.

The friction started in the 2009-10 season, after Rondo signed his five-year, $55 million extension, sources said. It wouldn’t be long until Allen started to hear his name in trade talks, and he began to make the correlation that Rondo’s salary played a part in the Celtics looking to trim payroll – starting with Allen.

Rondo’s contract is one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA, yet Allen begrudged him on it? As for the trade talks, I’ve heard a lot of “Well, the Celtics tried to trade him, why should he show any loyalty to them?” Yeah, I get that, but most NBA players have their names in trade talks at some point or another. Allen has been traded twice in his career already. It’s part of the business. Most players seem to understand that.

So besides Rondo’s contract, what were the personal issues?

“When it comes to basketball, Rondo is the smartest player on the team – one of the smartest players in the league,” one locker-room source said. “And Ray considers himself a smart guy. But at some point, it became hard for Ray to be corrected by a guy so much younger than him.”

Was Ray being corrected because he was wrong, or because Rondo just wanted things done his way? Wojnarowski acknowledges that they were also polar opposites in personality, and that was an issue. He says though, that Allen was discussing these issues with associates, to the point that Celtics management became concerned.

Was it just Rondo?

Within the Big Three, they teased Allen for his political nature. Whereas Rondo, Pierce and Garnett would speak in brutal, honest terms, Allen was forever measured, even.

He didn’t like to be teased by his teammates? Gary Washburn, in yesterday’s Globe had Doc Rivers revealing another nugget about Allen’s unhappiness:

Rivers hinted that perhaps the Celtics first courting Kevin Garnett to return may have irritated Allen, who may not have felt he was a priority.

“I thought we did [pursue him],” Rivers said. “[President of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point, and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled, then that’s probably too bad. We did everything that we’re supposed to do.

“[Allen] had his reasons. I think emotionally he probably got bent sideways a little bit by us courting Kevin, for some reason. I don’t know, honestly.

This is where it sort of gets silly. Of course KG was the Celtics number-one priority. For Allen to think he should’ve been seems ridiculous.

So because of all of these slights, and because the Heat laid out the red carpet for him, Allen decided to stick it to the Celtics, Wojnarowski writes:

Yet, it turns out Allen’s trip to South Beach made him feel so wanted, so inspired, and, truth be told, so eager to stick it to the Celtics. He could’ve broken Boston’s hearts and left for anywhere, but clearly there’s a part of Allen that wants to exact some kind of revenge on the Celtics. There was nowhere else to do that but Miami.

Ray Allen has always been portrayed as the ultimate professional. His preparation for his craft is beyond reproach. He was always available to the media, and willing to talk after a win or a loss.Interestingly, over the weekend, while this news was hot, NBATV was replaying the series The Association when it featured the Celtics in the 2010-2011 season.I had forgotten how prominent Ray Allen was in that series. He was the go-to guy for the camera. They followed him when he showed up four hours before every game, they went to his house for Christmas, and later he talked about the Perkins trade. He and KG and Pierce talked about their special bond and what it meant to play together and win together. Watching it, just hours after learning of Allen’s decision to sign with the Heat, was incredibly surreal.

This process has revealed another side of Ray Allen. A dark side. One that let jealousy and petty feuds consume him. One that was insecure, and overly sensitive. One that apparently had a lot of internal turmoil that he didn’t allow the media or public to see, but festered to the point where he wanted to stick it to the Boston Celtics and their fans in the worst possible way.

When he is introduced by the Heat later this week, I have no doubt that he will say the right things, and suggest that this decision was strictly about business. That he is doing what is best for the business of Ray Allen and his family.

On the surface, he can make that argument, and it is a plausible one. I’m not buying it. This wasn’t business for Ray Allen It was personal.

  • GStill45

    I don’t really get the Rondo issues. Is that why he left? I have to believe that LeBron and Wade can be hard to deal with too. Did everyone forget Wade airing out Spoelestra on the sidelines in the playoff game against Indiana?
    Ainge was willing to give Ray a no-trade clause to atone for constantly dangling him out in trades the last 2 years. I’m not going to kill Ray for leaving. He picked the most attractive team. He just can’t be shocked at the backlash that’s going to come from his decision.

  • Winning_Again

    I don’t feel wronged by Ray Allen choosing Miami. I may not like it, but I cannot fault a guy who takes less money for a chance to win. I will still BOOO the crap out of him, because just like he has the right to leave, we have the right to boo.

    If Ray’s feelings were truly hurt by being offered in trades, then he’s much more emotionally softer than a pro-athlete should be. The NBA is a business were normally the players hold teams hostage (see Dwight, Lebron). But apparently management should not do the same to players. Many great players have been linked to trades over the years such a Kobe, Nash, Dwight, Garnett, Pierce. Some of them even were traded (Garnett from Minnesota) and remember when the Celtics were up 3-2, and trades regarding Wade and Bosh were thrown out there? Everyone was ready to breakup the Heat but things change.

    This is all about laundry as Ordway used to say. And what’s wrong with illogically Boo-ing a guy that left for the enemy. NOTHING! Just get Ray was a gentlemen and great player here, doesn’t mean we have to kiss his rear. Any other team besides the Lakers and maybe Knicks, he gets the butt-kiss.

  • tl;138

    This Celts hot stove talk is just sitting on my head and crushing it. If Rose didn’t get hurt and they got bounced by the Bulls this really wouldn’t be a huge topic of discussion. As much as the League and refs are in the bag for the Heat good luck trying to get past them for a title the next three years.

    • Winning_Again

      And if Dave Roberts didn’t steal that base, the Sox don’t win the 04′ Series. Good work troll!

  • http://twitter.com/JChalifour Jason Chalifour

    I hope a Celtic give Ray a hard foul when he comes to the Garden. Too bad he won’t be within 20 feet of the basket.

  • Kingkelly

    Hey, Bruce. Nice essay! The foundation and balance are robust and that adds to its effectiveness. This can’t be mistaken for a spit of reflex revisionism at one more player who betrayed our achy breaky hearts – and by the way, here’s a smear chaser for the road, you disloyal sack of … Your pace, tone and choice of telling details add a poignant human dimension to Ray’s years here; I almost wanted to turn off and reboot my laptop seven times before commenting (Oooo. My bad).
    Where we part ways, and it isn’t a beef really, is that your final take landed “just a bit outside” the area code where mine wound up. That’s another subtlety that makes BSMW a treat. You still have that 12 to 6 curveball after all these years. Thanks for the link to Yahoo Adrian’s column, an even darker read. His pessimistic peek into Ray’s grim future with Celtics fans was off planet altogether from what my crystal ball was showing.
    People vote with their feet. Ray’s most consistent and nodal footprints seem to me to involve medical providers, the family’s support routines and priority to be together during any setback or change in the child’s treatment plan, and the wrap around schedule of public service messages and appearances to promote awareness and research. These dots connect with Ray’s distaste for being dangled or for where his contract might rank him on the Celtics ‘keeper’ list. Why would THIS family want to face another two months of sweating out the trade deadline each year, with bad deja vu of Perk wrenched out of the picture when Danny had a flashbulb moment. I wonder if Ray’s legendary self-discipline would let him indulge petty annoyances with a young and gifted punk point guard, if it meant uprooting the family. On the other hand, resentments he might see as undisciplined, and even the lush self-indulgence of adding rings and feeling LUV, L-U-V for another 2-3 years at the last stop of his playing career – those bits of Sports Ick could tag along without guilt, if the move truly was to avoid sudden dislocations for himself or his child, and long stretches of uncertainty for Team Allen.
    There may be a contrast artifact as well when we discover feelings in low places on a Ray Allen or a little cheese in the book keeping of a Mother Theresa, an artifact that makes small things seem larger. It’s hard to say. I’m betting that Ray will get his share of mixed boos or worse, when he returns to the Garden with South Beach filth. But unless he spits poison back and keeps doing it, we will love and reclaim him as a New England homeboy by the time he enters the Hall. Yahoo Adrian may see a legacy thrown away and in shards; I see a short ‘penance delay’ before his number is raised to the rafters. It will be Carlton Fisk all over again, or better. Championships talk. And in Green Nation especially, nothing beats out a Hall of Famer who played second or third fiddle to make another one possible.

    • #1 Guest

      What is this crap? Trying a little too hard to be clever with your lame T.S. Eliot impersonation.

      • Kingkelly

        Thanks for the feedback, Guest. I was having a little fun posting a more upbeat view on a great Celtic. I am so sorry I caused your soaring mood and joyful deep depth to crash and wither, leaving only a thin blot of snarling disgust. And I’ll bet you were just about to say “Hello,” or possibly even look at the content. Just asking, but your name wouldn’t be Wilbur, by any chance? Or Wormer?

        I haven’t read T.S. Eliot since the 1970s, but I recall a rule of thumb: if there are no footnotes, a poster isn’t trying to impersonate Eliot. Do try to cheer up…

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          Is this Charlie Pierce?

        • Kingkelly

          Thanks for your solid guess, Vertigo Nick. But nah. Ambrose.
          Ambrose Pierce. Charlie has turned out his share of keepers, and his head and typing fingers are still sharp. I heard that some of his worn out parts were being sold off in very long sentences, each one in a numbered Fenway Forevah glass container suitable for display, and inscribed with the uplifting slogan “His punctuation was our inspiration!” They have a cool bundling option with a brick and a picture of Larry Lu and Dr. Steinberg.

        • NutCracker

          And, They’re coming to take me away Ha Ha

          They’re coming to take me away ho ho he he ha ha to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time, and I’ll be happy to see those
          nice young men in their clean white coats
          and they’re coming to take me AWAY HAHA

    • latetodinner

      Ray Allen has made slightly more than $178 mill over the course of his career. Unless he has had a secret Antoine Walker moment we do not know about worrying about being traded and how that might effect his son seems pretty silly. Allen could afford to fly doctors to his son, fly his son to doctors or do whatever he had to in order to attempt to make any move as seamless and “normal” to his son as possible.

      I think Ray, as it turns out, is a a sensitive guy with an an ego…not unlike any other great/driven professional athlete. Rightly or wrongly he felt “disrespected” and unlike David Ortiz he quietly played through it and when the time came got himself into a different playing situation. Did the “disrespect” come from being dangled in a trade, not liking the way Rondo did things, having to sacrifice part of his game to fit the styles of KG and Pierce, or from KG being the top priority…who knows…most likely all of these things gnawed at him to the point where he personally had to go. Where I applaud Allen as that he was for the most part not a petulant child, until the end he gave it his all to help this team win, and even with this decision has not really burned bridges. In this day and age of Dwight Howard, Kevin Youlalis, Lebrown James, and even Wes Welker…Allen was in some ways a breath of fresh air…a consummate pro who had issues but who dealt with them the correct way.

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        Put down the thesaurus and back away slowly…

      • Kingkelly

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply, LTD, and for taking the time. I agree with all your points in para 2, and liked the “Do you know this whiner?” gallery. All pro sports today seem to have stars who can’t see how well off they are. I follow your point that $178 M buys a lot of fly-in physicians (para 1), and I’m with you fully on the negative example. It really is piling on the cruel misfortune if a family with an afflicted child has no money to do for the child, or to access far away specialists, or even to stave off foreclosure.
        BTW I hope you and yours have made it to minor league baseball this summer, in Portland, Lowell or Pawtucket. It’s the real deal, old time atmosphere and baseball values. If enough of us sprinkle our posts with the telling details and honest joys of the true fan – rediscovered by heading OUTBOUND from the stagnant play, tragic drama, media hyenas and Fenway bricks – it might penetrate the front office fog, but send a positive message to the Sox rookies. We wouldn’t the young players to think the cranky fans were just another branch on the Entitlement Tree.

        • latetodinner

          I spend the Summer on the Cape…watching the Cape League and eating burgers served on donuts. :-)

        • Kingkelly

          Cape is Good. Be sure to share a few real deal baseball moments when you get an opening. I’ll bet those burgers taste pretty basic without the side of sushi and Pink Hat flambe…..

  • bsmfan

    Is it me or was the media trying to not discuss the Red Sox today? I got that impression from Sports Hub at least. I know that they did, but it seemed like the last thing on their list and zero interest to do so.

  • Zuppe

    Tremendous article, I have read several articles from newspapers and web sites, this sums it out perfectly. It is so disappointing when a player leaves a team that you dearly love. Sports has changed so much over the years and it is understandable when a player leaves, gets traded or cut. But it still makes it tough to see that happen to your favorite player or players. This one was tough to swallow–but this article made it a little easier to come to grips with…..great job!

  • You are really hurting!!!

    Ummmhh so… It’s ok for him to be trade by management because it’s part of the business but he is a selfish, selfcentered stabber if he decide as a free agent to sign elsewhere …
    Do I smell hypocrisy by this writer ??? Get a life!!!!

%d bloggers like this: