I've hesitated to write about the Ray Allen defection because I didn't want to post a knee-jerk reaction. I've had a chance to think it over and while I appreciate what Ray did for the Celtics and he'll always be part of the 17th championship team, I've lost a lot of respect for Ray Allen as a professional and as a person.
Over the years, I've seen Ray Allen referred to as a consummate professional. A consummate professional can be defined as someone who is characterized by his intense professionalism and intolerance of lack thereof. Ray Allen's decision to leave the Celtics, and his reasons for it, are anything but professional.
Reportedly Ray was hurt by Danny's attempt to trade him at the last trade deadline and sources have said that he couldn't get past that. Paul Pierce has been almost traded pretty much every year since Chris Paul was drafted. His name has been floated in trade rumors way more than Ray's. Rondo has to be the king of trade rumors. Every year, every off season, every trade deadline, there are very credible reports of Rondo being shopped and almost traded. Pau Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors, including one involving Rondo. He was traded in the Chris Paul trade but then the trade was nixed by Herr Stern. He hasn't tried to figure some way to stick it to the Lakers. He's stated that he wants to stay there. It pains me to say, but Pau Gasol has shown more professionalism than Ray Allen.
Then there were the reports that Ray's feelings were hurt because Rondo wanted Avery to start and lobbied for the change. While Ray said he was ok with coming off the bench, in truth he was far from ok with it. He was mad that he had to come off the bench and he let that cause a resentment against Rondo. In the press conference yesterday. Jason Terry was asked about his role on the team. He said that if Doc wanted him to do the laundry or sweep the floor he was fine with it. He was ready to do whatever it took to make the team better. Players like Jason Terry, Manu Ginobili and James Harden are starting caliber players who come off the bench for their teams because it makes the team better. That is professionalism.
Last season, Ray was struggling. He was slow in running the floor. His shot was off and he was even missing more free throws than he made. It was tough to watch him struggle through games. When he was out with the injury, Avery started and was effective. The team was playing better with Avery in the starting lineup. It was obvious to everyone, not just Rondo, that the team was better with Avery in the starting lineup. It wasn't really a knock against Ray. He was playing injured and so should have been willing to come off the bench because it made the team better. But Ray took it personally and let that affect his relationship with Rondo and with the team.
I recall when Allen Iverson was asked to come off the bench and he was complaining about it, Ray was vocal about it and said that Iverson should accept his role of coming off the bench. But when it came to Ray doing what was best for his team by coming off the bench, he couldn't except that. I loved Jason Terry's attitude at the press conference. He doesn't care if he comes off the bench or if he does the laundry. He's ready to do whatever Doc needs him to do to make the team better. That's professionalism. That's a team player. Ray, for all his talk, was a "me first" player. He didn't want to come off the bench behind Avery, even though it would make the team better. That's the kind of attitude that can destroy Ubuntu.
Ray said that he wanted a 3 year/$27 million contract from the Celtics. They offered him 2 years at $6 million per year. As a team, they were trying to keep some flexibility to build a winning team and paying Ray that much would have jeopardized that. Danny also offered a no-trade clause to ease Ray's fears about being traded. He said that had Danny met his demands, he would have come back. That doesn't sound much like the consummate professional. It sounds like a someone wanting to punish the team for what he saw as slights against him.
The Celtics were still offering twice as much as Miami. The Grizzlies were offering the full MLE. The Clippers were offering a starting spot and the MLE. There were other teams offering more as well. But Ray chose to take half as much from the Celtics' biggest conference rival. He won't start there. He probably won't even get as big a role as he would have had in Boston. BUT going to Miami guarantees one thing, that he can inflict as much pain on his old team as possible.
Today the talk was all about Ray's full page ad in the Globe. He wanted to thank the Boston fans and tell them how much he would cherish his time in Boston. To me, this is damage control. .He wanted to stick it to the team and the fans were just collateral damage. I don't think he expected the reaction from the fans of Boston. He may have been taken aback by the Judas Shuttlesworth shirts on sale and the photos of #20 jerseys being burned.
Whatever the reason, Ray felt the need to reach out to the fans. And I guess he'll have to understand if many fans feel it's a bit disingenuous for him to tell them how much they mean to him as he slaps their beloved Celtics in the face and embraqces their hated rivals. .
I'm sorry, but I just can't see Ray Allen as the consummate professional any more. Pierce is a professional for shaking off the trade rumors and still wanting to retire a Celtic. KG is a professional for wanting to come back and finish what this team started. Jason Terry is a professional for wanting to do whatever the team asks him to do if it makes the team better, even if it means doing the laundry or sweeping the floor. But Ray's behavior this off season has forever changed my opinion of him. The Celtics are going to be a better team without the divisiveness of a player who puts himself above the needs of the team. Ray didn't hurt the team as much as he hurt his own legacy.
Well thought, and well put! This article is one of several this week that have reminded me of why I encouraged you to resume writing analysis. I, and a multitude of others whether they realize it or not,am indebted to you for your informational postings (Daily Links and Pregame Intros), but you really shine when you noodle and scribe.
I think a couple of things have emerged in the Allen soap opera. First, while he would have been a wonderful influence if he had accepted the transition from front-line stud to role-playing senior emeritus; he didn't accept that his fading athleticism was becoming a detriment and that his role needed to change. Since he couldn't/didn't make that adjustment, Boston is better off without him in spite of not having his salary available to replace him. As positive an influence he could have been, his staying (and disgruntled) would have been really bad for this team that has morphed into a young impressionable one.
The second thing is that Ray Allen has proved to be a savvy media guy rather than a truly classy human being. He has always known what is the "right" thing to say and do. In hindsight, however, all those professional habits are all about "me" and not so much about "team." The pre-game prep, controlled eating and sleeping habits, natty and fastidious dress, even his very public community contributions--now come across as carefully grooming his career and personal image. In the end he was the little boy stomping and holding his breath in a snit because he was getting his way. Perhaps through our green-tinted lenses, we failed to notice that his PRofessionalism really went little farther (or further for than matter) than the first two letters.
Thank you for your kind words. And as always, your comments prove why I have always immensely enjoyed your writing. You have a wonderful way with words. I just play at writing, you are one of the best.