In Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Los Angeles, with under 20 seconds left in the game and the Boston Celtics clinging to a 94-91 lead, Ray Allen had the ball in his hands and completely left Sasha Vujacic in the dust as he drove right past him for a reverse lay up that helped the Celtics clinch the game as the former Connecticut guard finished the game with 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
The victory helped Boston take a commanding 3-1 series lead and the Celtics eventually won the title in Game 6 in Boston.
Jesus Shuttlesworth’s Finals exploits weren’t exclusive to the 2008 postseason mind you. In Game 2 of 2010 Finals, Allen converted 8-of-11 shots from 3-point range on his way to 32 points as the Celtics won by a final score of 103-94 to tie the series up and send it back to Boston. The Celtics would eventually lose the series in a tough Game 7 in Los Angeles, but it was still a series for the ages.
The Boston Celtics had some great moments in the era of the “new big three”, and Ray Allen was definitely the focal point at times of those moments as evidenced by his Finals’ highlights.
Thus, many thought that the NBA 3-point king’s re-signing in Boston would be a mere formality provided that Kevin Garnett would come back for one last run. And that’s exactly what happened. Well almost.
KG re-upped for a few more seasons, and Allen would do the same given that the group came within one win of making their third NBA Finals appearance in five seasons.
But things failed to happen much like the Celtics anticipated.
In the training camp of the 2007-08 season, Doc Rivers preached ubuntu to his team; which essentially called for his players to play for each other and care for one another. Accepting that the team at its core was bigger than its individuals and its egos became the team’s reality. The players had to trust each other and exhibit loyalty above everything else.
The philosophy as well as the team’s talent helped the Celtics win a title the spring of 2008 and come within a win of returning to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 despite the absence of the Big Ticket who missed the postseason due to injury.
In the spring of 2010, Boston made it back to the Finals and lost a heartbreaking Game 7 on the road as Kendrick Perkins watched the game from the bench, incapable of playing after injuring himself in the previous game.
If anything, the team knew that they had what it took to get back to the mountaintop provided that they had health and a few good fortunes.
And then, Danny Ainge traded Perkins during the 2010-11 regular season to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the dynamics seemed to change a little.
A team that believed in believing in each other lost their enforcer. The big brother that protected them through thick and thin on the court was gone. Fans in Boston were outraged and called for the head of general manager Danny Ainge because they felt as though the team had not only been weakened, but that a family member had been sent away for no apparent reason.
All of a sudden, a big three that had morphed into a big four started to become expendable given that the team had a few holes on the roster.
Garnett was the defensive anchor, Pierce was the lone true Celtic — he’s played his entire career in Boston — and Rondo was the gifted young point guard of the present and the future. The end result was the one player that the Celtics could definitely part with would have to be Ray Allen, if they wanted to upgrade other positions on the team.
On multiple occasions, word had leaked out that the Boston front office was putting out feelers with other teams to see what they could get in exchange for the former Husky. Potential trade scenarios were discussed but ultimately Ainge never pulled the trigger.
And then prior to the 2012 trade deadline, Rivers called Allen to announce to him that he had been traded.
The deal fell through and thus Allen never left, but the fact still remains that Boston attempted to send him away despite the memories and contributions he brought to the team.
Doc Rivers preached togetherness, trust and loyalty; and yet Allen was essentially shipped away and then when the swap failed to materialize, he was essentially told given the boyfriend/girlfriend breakup line: “no hard feelings right?”
And thus, Celtics part owner Wyc Grousbeck can try to talk up how Allen’s departure from Boston was somewhat of a betrayal because he accepted half of the money that Boston was offering to go play with their rivals in Miami, but the truth is that Boston may have lost out on the NBA’s all time 3-point leader at the 2012 trading deadline.
Loyalty is funny like that, the moment you take yours away from someone, that very same someone can take away his from you.
And really, that’s how things work out in sports.
Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins know this all too well….
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