Walter Ray Allen was born on July 20, 1975, to Flora and Walter Allen, a military couple stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California. He played high school basketball for Hillcrest High School in Sumter, South Carolina where he took his team to a high school state championship.
Ray went to college at the University of Connecticut and has kept his New England roots, even while playing on the West coast for many years. At UConn, Allen finished No. 3 on the Huskies' career scoring list with 1,922 points and also set a UConn single-season record by connecting on 115 three-pointers in 1995-96. Allen was the first UConn player ever to earn All-America recognition in back-to-back seasons, after being named to AP's and NABC's Third Team as a sophomore in 1994-95.
As a junior, Allen was a consensus All-America First Team selection and was also named UPI's College Player of the Year...He was a unanimous All-Big East First team pick after averaging 23.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 3.3 apg in 35 games. He was named the 1996 Big East Player of the Year. On February 5, 2007 his number was retired at Gampel Pavilion on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, Connecticut during halftime of the men's basketball game against the Syracuse Orangemen as part of the "Huskies of Honor" ceremony which recognized the accomplishments of 13 former players and three former coaches.
Allen was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick of the 1996 NBA Draft but was shipped, along with a future first-round draft pick, to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to fourth pick Stephon Marbury. Allen enjoyed a strong rookie season for the Bucks, ranking third on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game. He was the team's primary long-distance threat, shooting .393 from three-point range. Allen competed in the Schick Rookie Game at All-Star Weekend and scored eight points. He also was the national spokesman for the game. In addition, he became the first Buck since Paul Pressey in 1986 to compete in the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest. He was also named to the NBA's All-Rookie 1st Team. He won the 3 Point Shootout during All Star Weekend in 2001. During Milwaukee's 2001 playoff series with the Hornets, Ray painted his toenails green and purple for good luck.
He played for the Bucks for 7 seasons, until February of 2003 when he was traded to the Supersonics where he has played the last 5 seasons. In Seattle, he has accomplished many records and has become one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise. On March 12, 2006, Allen became the 97th player in NBA history to score 15,000 points. On April 7, 2006, Allen moved into second place on the NBA's list of all-time three-point field goals made with only Reggie Miller ahead of him. On April 19, 2006, against the Denver Nuggets, Allen broke Dennis Scott's ten-year-old NBA record for three-point field goals in a season by sinking his 268th, a record he still holds.
Sonics.com had an article entitled "The Value of Ray" that should make Celtics fans very happy to have him. It details the importance of Ray Allen and the difference he makes when he is on the court. When RA was out with an injury, the Sonics scored 95.1 points per game, 19.9 assists per game, 15.0 turnovers per game and they shot 43.4% from the field. With Ray back in the lineup, their scoring increased to 103.4 points per game, their assists increased to 23.6 per game, turnovers decreased to 14.3 per game and field goal percentage increased to 45.3. The article goes on to say:
Everyone knows that Allen is one of the league’s best shooters, so the improvement in scoring is no surprise whatsoever. What might be a little more surprising, especially to anyone who did not see Allen’s maturation last season in Seattle, is the improved ball movement the Sonics have had with him in the lineup. Their assists have increased from a shade under 20 per game to 23.6, again one of the league’s top marks. The Sonics have assisted 61.2% of their made shots with Allen in the lineup, as compared to 57.1% without him. Even team statistics, alas, are not enough to capture just how important Allen is to the Sonics, because they fail to give proper weight to where Allen really shines – clutch situations. Post-Intelligencer columnist David Locke first quantified Allen’s fourth-quarter prowess last season, reporting that Allen averaged 6.5 points on 48% shooting in the fourth quarter of “close” games. The closer the game has been, the better Allen has played. According to the website 82games.com, Allen has played 35 minutes in what they define as “clutch” situations – five-point margin or smaller, fourth quarter or overtime. In that span, he has scored 42 points on 17-30 shooting (56.7%) and handed out six assists against two turnovers. In those 35 minutes, the Sonics have outscored their opponents by 32 points.
He won a gold medal at the World University Games with the USA team in 1995. He was also named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 1995. He continued his USA experience with another Gold Medal at the 2000 Olympic Games with the USA Team and won the Tournament of the Americas with the US team in 2003.
Along with his basketball accomplishments, Ray is one of the good guys in the NBA. He was named Sporting News "Good Guy" in 2000 and 2001. He is a member of the All-Star Advisory Council for the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA youth basketball support program. He is the NBA Spokesman for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. He initiated the "Ray of Hope" Foundation, which assists charities in several communities. He was given the NBA Joe Dumars NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2003.
Ray is a 12 handicap golfer and recently won a Celebrity Golf Tournament with fellow UConn alum, Donny Marshall. He also bowls, and averages over 150. I can see the bowling competition now between James Posey, Ray Allen and Pierce, all of whom take great pride in their bowling prowess. His nicknames include Jesus, Sugar Ray, and The Silent Assassin. As almost every basketball fan knows, Jesus refers to Jesus Shuttlesworth, the character that Ray played in the 1998 movie, He Got Game, that Ray starred in along with Denzel Washington. Allen's character, Jesus Shuttlesworth, is a talented basketball player being pursued by the top colleges in the nation. Washington's character, Jesus' father, Jake Shuttlesworth, is a convicted felon serving time at Attica State Prison for accidentally killing his wife (Jesus' mother) by pushing her during an argument. The governor, an influential alum of one of the colleges Jesus is considering, temporarily releases Jake so that he might direct his son to sign with the governor's college.
Not as well known is that Ray starred in a second movie in 2001 titled Harvard Man, in which a basketball player strikes a deal with the mob to fix a basketball game. RA plays Marcus Blake in the movie. Also starring in the movie were Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eric Stoltz.
As with our other new players, I wanted the opinion of someone who followed Ray while on the Sonics. To that end, I asked Rick Michels who writes for Supersonic Scoop on the MVN network to tell me his thoughts on Ray Allen and this is what he sent:
Ray Allen is a tremendous offensive player. When he's healthy, he's Jordanesque. He is able to create his own shot, has tremendous range, and dangerous anywhere on the floor. There really isn't any way to defend him one on one, except to do it dirty and hurt him, Bruce Bowen style. The only thing that slows Allen down is injury. He also is a team leader.Enjoy him. I'm going to miss him.
In Ray Allen we are getting a leader and a quality person along with a terrific basketball player. He makes others around him better as evidenced by the Sonics' stats with and without him. He will be a difference maker on and off the court and while most of the hoopla has been about KG coming to Boston, don't underestimate the value of Ray.