Ray Allen is in his 16th year of being a professional basketball player.
He's in roughly his 31st year of being an avid reader.
Since his days of winning books in the first grade, Allen has been reading. During long road trips and down time on off days, by replacing the ball in his hand with a book, Allen is able to escape to a different world and calm his mind.
His love affair with books is a serious one, and something that he doesn't intend to give up any time soon. In fact, he so enjoys his time reading, that he discussed the dangers of the pastime with The Boston Globe:
'It’s like a date,’' he said. 'Like you’ve got a great date and you can look forward to it.’'
There is, however, a caution.
As Allen said, 'Once you start reading you won’t have any other choice but to read, and continue to read.'
This is a choice that Allen is OK with. While he says most of his Celtics teammates are not on board the book club bandwagon, being known as only an athlete is not enough for the 36-year-old.
He shared his thoughts on the importance of continuing to self-educate and expand knowledge, especially for people who spend their days getting paid to play a game. Allen told The Boston Globe:
What we do here is we understand the idea of basketball and we stay on top of it and our basketball knowledge is so important. And you can explain the game to everybody.
But everything else in the world we become dumb toward. Just pick up a newspaper to understand what’s going on around the world, watch the news. When we were in college it was a different story . . . we learned something every day. Around here you’re not learning anything. So it’s important that you read, because you understand what’s going on with the world, you understand the economy. . . . There’s so much that we need to know, and we’re not getting it from playing basketball.
It is a shame that Allen's teammates haven't picked up his hobby.
While younger teammates Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley have looked to Allen as a shining example of professionalism with how he approaches basketball, perhaps they'd benefit from following Allen's lead off the floor as well.
Lasting for 16 years in the NBA requires talent, athleticism, health and patience, but there's probably an element of awareness and self knowledge that also comes into play. Using his brain and constantly being reminded that there is life outside of basketball and a life without games for many people probably helps Allen stay grounded, humble and appreciative.
In addition to copying his shooting drills and nutritional habits, it might be time for Allen admirers to crack open some books and get busy.