What Hannah Storm is to announcing deaths on ESPN is what I fancy myself here at Barstool for celebrating the careers of NBA greats. We had Paul, and Kevin, and now we gather to celebrate the third member of that Big 3. By far the most controversial of the three when it came to his time in Boston, Ray Allen might be one of the best players we’ve ever seen play in the NBA.
The basketball story of Ray Allen begins all the way at Uconn. Like a real life Jesus Shuttlesworth (more on this later) Ray arrived at UConn and instantly became one of the best players in the country. While he could always shoot, his breakout year happened his sophomore season with 21/7/2/2 with 51/44% splits. The Huskies went 28-5 that year behind the one two punch of Ray and Donny Marshall and made it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins. That year Ray won the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year award, and the stage was set for this junior year.
The ’95-96 season was even more impressive, because that team basically only had Ray. He still put up 23 a game with 47/46% splits. The Huskies won 32 games that year, and while they had a disappointing run in the tournament, we’ll always have his battle with Allen Iverson in the Big East Tourney
Milwaukee Bucks 1996-2003
I’m not sure if you ask NBA fans today how they remember Ray Allen, many will say as a Buck, and that’s really sad. Taken with the fifth pick in the now famous 1996 Draft, it’s where he played the longest (7 years), and where he truly became an NBA superstar. Right off the bat we got a taste of how hard Allen prepared and worked, he played on averaged 77 games a season over his time in MIL. In fact, he played and started every game for his first five seasons. Of his 2,973 made threes, 1,051 of them came as part of this team. Don’t be confused though, he could do way more than shoot. Ray Allen the dunker was must watch stuff.
He made his first All Star team as a Buck in 2000 and would be something he repeated each of his last three years there. Sadly the deepest any of his MIL teams ever got was an ECF in ’01, where that guy Allen Iverson showed up and got his revenge.
No matter what he did on the court, the best thing to come from Ray Allen during this time period is without a doubt He Got Game
If you didn’t throw up either He Got Game or Love & Basketball in the late 90s-mid 2000s as basically the original Netflix and chill, you weren’t living. An iconic role in an iconic film, one could argue it was a Top 3 basketball movie ever made.
By the end of his tenure as a Buck, Ray was 27, one of the best players in the league, an all star player thriving in his prime. The Bucks traded him to Seattle for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason, and just like that it was onto his second NBA chapter.
Seattle SuperSonics 2002-2007
Seattle was where Ray Allen’s career started to take a jump. His scoring jumped from 19 per game in MIL to 24 a game in Seattle. He was playing more minutes, taking more shots, taking more threes and making more shots and making more threes. If MIL was where Allen planted his three point shooting seed, Seattle is where it blossomed. He made a ridiculous 869 threes in five seasons as a Sonic. That comes out to an average of 173.8 a year, and this is before a world where Steph Curry exists. For comparison, he averaged 150 a season as a Buck.
Ray would add to his all star appearances with six more during this time period, a ton of additional individual accolades, even a beef with Kobe Brant, but the SuperSonics he played in a playoff series just once during his time there.
At 32, he was presented with a choice, one that if he accepted could change his life forever.
Boston Celtics 2007-2012
Ray Allen and Big Baby for Delonte West, Wally Szersdhasdkfbiak, and Jeff Green. That was it. That was the first domino that changed our lives. What an outrageous steal, and at 32 coming off ankle issues you could sense that Ray knew right from the start this was his best chance to finally win a championship. Once Kevin Garnett heard Ray was on board, he waived his no trade clause and the 2008 Boston Celtics became the best team in the NBA.
As a Celtic, Ray was walking into a new role, for the first time on really any of his teams, he didn’t have to be “the guy”. The trio never shied away from who would take the last shot, especially when they got to the Finals where if you remember both Pierce and KG said Ray without hesitation
And big shots he made. When I reflect on Ray’s time in Boston, I would say it was absolutely what I expected, if not more. Sure maybe he had some defensive limitations, but the shooting, oh God was the shooting incredible. If MIL was where the seed was planted, and Seattle was where it flourished, then Boston was where it was perfected. During his 5 seasons in Boston he shot 47% from the field and 40.9% from three, both the best of any of his prior stints. It makes sense, he played with HOF talent, but he did make 798 threes. He took about 300 less attempts from deep as a Celtic than a SuperSonic, yet made just 71 fewer.
The thing is, every summer, and every trade deadline, there was always some sort of rumor of Trader Danny dangling Ray out there to teams. Ray always wanted a longer year commitment, and Danny was always a little reluctant. He never ended up trading him, but you have to imagine he burnt a bridge.
Miami Heat 2012-2014
Maybe the greatest single shot in NBA history. The fact that it came as part of that Miami team makes me want to absolutely vomit, but it was everything that makes Ray Allen great in one play. The awareness after getting the pass by Bosh to find the three point line without panicking, the perfect elevation, the form, the release, the result. The entire world knew that shot was going in the minute he touched the ball, and the fact that he made the shot is what makes Ray Allen, Ray Allen.
As a Celtics fan his tenure in MIA is no more than a “fuck you” to Ainge and the Celtics. He could have gone somewhere else, but much like Kevin Durant, if you couldn’t beat them, join em. That clearly didn’t sit well with KG given the history these two teams had, and it gave us one of the best KG gifs of all time
After playing 73 games as a 38 year old, Ray hasn’t been in the league since 2014, so I’m pretty sure he’s been retired for quite some time. At the end of the day he is another iconic NBA player to call it “quits” this season, and Basketball Reference says he has a 99.9% chance to make it to the HOF. A 10 time all star and two time champion Ray Allen will probably go down personally as my favorite SG of all time, even if he is dead to me. What a player, what a career.