The last sight of Ray Allen playing at the TD Garden with a Celtic uniform was LeBron's Epic Game 6.
Miami Heat Managing General Partner Micky Arison was the first to break the biggest NBA news of the day on his twitter page:
Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news.Welcome to the family #20!!— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) July 7, 2012
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst then reported the breaking news officially:
The Miami Heat have landed their top free-agent target, getting a commitment Friday night that Ray Allen will leave the Boston Celtics and join the current NBA champions, agent Jim Tanner told ESPN.com.
Heat owner Micky Arison broke the news via his Twitter account by writing "welcome to the family #20."
It is believed Allen accepted the Heat's mid-level exception that starts at $3.09 million, which means he left an offer worth twice as much per year on the table from the Celtics.
Allen met with the Heat Thursday afternoon and evening in Miami.
Whether or not Allen will be known in Boston lore as the Celtics' version of Johnny Damon (when he chose to go to the hated rival Yankees), Allen made the best decision where to spend the twilight of his career.
Here are five reasons why.
Rajon Rondo's relationship with Ray Allen could have been a deciding factor in pushing Allen to the Celtics' hated rival.
On Monday, June 11, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Mannix joined the Dennis and Callahan show on Sports Radio WEEI in Boston to talk about the future of the Celtics after losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Heat, according to weei.com.
On the chances of Ray Allen returning and factors that could deter it, including the relationship between Rondo and Allen, Mannix had this to say:
"I think there's no question that the relationship was strained over this year," Mannix said. "How strained is the key, and it's still a little bit unclear. There was some friction between those two. I think that could play a role in Ray's decision not to come back. Now, I agree, I think that Boston probably wasn't going to bring him back anyway, you're right, it's Avery Bradley's job and Ray isn't coming back to the Celtics to be a bench player, especially when he can be a bench player on a team that might be more likely to win a championship. But I think the relationship over the last year between Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo soured. Now, I'm not entirely clear as to how bad it got. But certainly I know that there was some legitimate, palpable friction between those two players and I think that will ultimately affect his decision in free agency."
While Rondo is an All-Star talent and possibly the best point guard in basketball, his tenacious play can certainly rub people the wrong way.
His decision to bump a referee in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Atlanta gave him a one-game suspension, and gave credence to those who compare Rondo to a modern day Isiah Thomas in terms of both play and personality.
Whatever happened between Allen and Rondo could unfortunately play itself out in the increasing rivalry between the Heat and Celtics.
That being said, it is fortunate for fans who thrive on games with grudges, and there will be no more interesting ones than when Allen returns to the TD Garden in a Heat Uniform.
Jason Terry (#31) may have been Ray Allen's potential replacement from the beginning.
An earlier report by ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Ray Allen was torn on whether to leave the Celtics.
In that report, Windhorst wrote that the Celtics had an odd plan in place for how to use free-agent addition Jason Terry and Allen:
The Celtics, sources said, have their own plan for incorporating Allen into a different role that includes playing him alongside Jason Terry, who committed to sign with the Celtics earlier this week. The Boston Herald reported that Boston also has offered to include a no-trade clause in Allen's contract, something the Heat cannot offer.
While the idea of Terry—who can play some point guard—playing with Allen in some lineups is appetizing, there is no way that pairing will last for longer than ten minutes with Rajon Rondo playing the point for Boston.
With not a lot of minutes available due to the emergence of Avery Bradley and signing of Jason Terry, Allen will be Dwyane Wade's back-up. He can also play small forward in an up-tempo lineup with LeBron James at power forward.
Plus, Miami's glut of three-point shooters in Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and LeBron James, (who hit 36% from three-point range), takes the pressure off of Allen in terms of being the only one who can stroke it from deep.
That doesn't include whether Game 5 hero Mike Miller and James Jones will decide to return to the Heat.
Seeing how Battier, Miller, Chalmers and even rookie Norris Cole got wide-open looks (due to the penetration of D-Wade and LeBron) in the NBA Finals may have forced Allen to think about the Heat as a destination a little bit more.
Whereas Allen would have been the fourth guard in Boston's deep rotation, he is now the third guard in Miami's rotation behind Chalmers and Wade.
Dwyane Wade certainly wants to touch the Larry O'Brien trophy more than twice in his career.
Though it was nice that Boston brought back the core of its team, the fact is that the Celtics still were 0-2 when they played the entire Miami Heat team in the Eastern Conference Finals.
What I mean by that is Chris Bosh only played big minutes in Games 6 and 7. Heat won by double digits in both to advance to the NBA Finals.
That doesn't include the fact that Dwyane Wade and Bosh were not close to 100% in those two games, and LeBron James was not at his NBA Finals MVP best, either.
With LeBron, only 27 years old, now entering the prime of his career, he will improve on his post-game even more.
Wade is motivated to get healthy and improve his jump shot, according to the Miami Herald:
Wade said the knee caused him discomfort throughout the postseason and, “I had to go through a lot to play. If people knew what I had to go through just to play, it was crazy. The biggest thing was I had a lot of swelling."
“My left knee is my power knee. It’s my explosion knee. When you are dealing with knee issues, you are dealing with lateral quickness [issues]. I dealt with it. At times, I did great with it. At other times, I didn’t do great with it.”
He said he had his knee drained before Game 3 against Indiana, when he scored five points on 2-for-13 shooting. “Very sore,” he said. “It was so much swelling, and I wanted some relief.”
Wade said he might work with a shooting coach “for the first time ever” after a postseason in which he shot 31 percent on mid-range jumpers (50 for 163) and 29 percent on three-pointers (10 for 34).
The goal, he said, “is to try to do more in the sense of my three-point game and midrange game, getting that back. My mechanics aren’t that bad. I don’t have an ugly shot, not one of those Shawn Marion shots. There are certain things in my shot I can change.”
Wade said a shooting coach could “give me a different look and [suggest] where I can get better.” He said he also wants “to continue to get better in the post.”
If Wade and LeBron get better, and the chemistry between the Big Three in Miami continues to grow, the addition of Allen's skill and championship experience could make the Heat nearly unbeatable in a seven-game series.
Ray Allen, a long-time opponent of LeBron, now joins his team in an ironic twist of fate.
While Allen is probably a future Hall-of-Famer, there are still some rings and new titles he can add to his resume.
For example, he can possibly be the first player to play with the two most intriguing player trios of the twenty-first century NBA, both being nicknamed the Big 3.
If he wins at least one NBA Championship with the Miami Heat, he potentially becomes a very polarizing player among both fan bases of currently the best rivalry in the NBA, and maybe the best right now in sports.
He joins the team led by LeBron James, who made his infamous decision a couple years ago, the same summer when Allen quietly re-signed with Boston for two years.
Both left potential dynasties in their respective cities in order to give themselves the best chance to win an NBA Championship.
The greatest modern three-point threat in an NBA History joins arguably the most physically imposing force in NBA history.
We never could have predicted Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant playing on the same back-court, both wearing Laker yellow, but as this moment in the 2012 NBA free agency period again shows us, championship aspirations can mend almost every issue between long-time rivals.
Often the quietest player of the Big 3 in Boston, Ray Allen's departure is very similar to his entrance.
Though the Ray Allen trade on draft night 2007 was big news, it was nothing compared to the hype and love affair Celtic fans had from the moment Kevin Garnett put on Celtic green.
Allen didn't make any statements on his free-agency tour, thought about each possible destination, and methodically thought about his decision.
Like his pre-game routine, Allen is consistent with effort, preparation, and heart.
In the end, though the Celtics offered more money: a two-year, $12 million offer (according to ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg), and a chance to rejoin Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Allen made the decision to take less money because he felt better about Miami's championship aspirations.
If he had let emotion into it and returned to Boston, the presence of Avery Bradley and Jason Terry taking his minutes might have made him bitter.
Also, the experiences of his past season in Boston really hurt the chances of him returning to the Celtics, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
According to multiple league sources, Allen had become frustrated during last season when the Celtics offered him up in trade talks and then stripped him of his starting job in favor of the younger Avery Bradley. Allen, who averaged 11.9 points and shot 35 percent on 3-pointers in the Eastern Conference finals loss to the Heat, also had a deteriorating relationship with point guard Rajon Rondo.
Both LeBron James and Ray Allen made a decision that was based in their heart to leave a great situation.
Though there will be a lot of people who put the traitor tag on both of them, fairly or unfairly, both are now teammates and made the choices they felt were in their best interest.