Yesterday, we talked about Ray Allen's love of reading and how it has helped to keep him calm over the course of his 16-year NBA career. Today, there's more praise for Allen, and it's certainly deserved.
Another way to ensure you stay in the game past your prime is to always put the team first. Even when it means sacrificing your own comfort and checking your ego firmly at the door. After missing six games with an ankle injury, Allen returned to the starting lineup and then spoke with coach Doc Rivers about heading to the bench and allowing young gun Avery Bradley to continue to start.
Bradley has been sensational in the expanded role that Allen's injury opened up for him. A fantastic defender in the backcourt along with Rajon Rondo, Bradley has also shown that he can score the basketball. He's young, quick and tireless. His game is the opposite of Allen's, and this is a great thing. The combination of the two guards gives Boston depth and keeps their opponents guessing.
While he had started in all but four of his previous NBA games, according to the Boston Globe, Allen didn't hesitate to make the move.
He told reporters Thursday that since there were murmurs about Avery Bradley becoming the starter at shooting guard, he decided to approach coach Doc Rivers about making the change. He reiterated that he would much rather start but was willing to sacrifice for the team.
With his sore ankles healing, Allen is attempting to embrace the role. He checked into Tuesday’s 115-107 win over the Heat at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter, replacing Bradley. He finished with 9 points and three assists in 35 minutes.
“The shots that I am getting now, you just kind of build into them,’’ Allen said when asked if the shots coming off the bench are different. “You adjust to how [defenses] are coming to you and you understand that and you adjust to that situation or role.’’
Beyond the ego stroke of starting, why is it so important to so many players? Because it's often easier.
At least it is, according to Blazers guard Jamal Crawford. Since becoming a full-time backup in 2009 after starting for much of his career, Crawford recently discussed the difference between being in the starting lineup and having to come into the game off of the bench with HoopsWorld:
One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years is that it’s a lot easier to start than it is to come off of the bench. When you start, you have a lot more control. I can settle down and play my game. Off the bench, I come in and feel like I have to make something happen. When you’re coming off the bench, you’re a hired gun who has to come in and score. When you start, you can pick and choose your spots and take your time. Going into the summer, that’s definitely something I’m going to consider. I’m not saying that I’m not willing to come off the bench, but my preference is to start.
For a scorer like Allen who has heard his name called first for virtually all of his career, it makes this move mean even more.
For a young player like Bradley, having a veteran set this kind of example will shape how he grows and thinks about the game.
The Celtics have long preached patience and togetherness through the Ubuntu philosophy. For anyone wondering whether they've deviated from this practice and way of thinking, Allen is a perfect example of where the Celtics stand.
They somehow always manage to see the bigger picture. This is exactly why they'll always be in the mix come playoff time.