I was having a good night. I was rewatching past episodes of Breaking Bad while keeping an eye on the Red Sox-Yankees game on the computer, which the Sox led 7-6. Then it all quickly changed. While the Sox bullpen was busy blowing the lead, I checked Twitter and there it was.
A tweet from David Aldridge – “It’s really Micky Arison’s account, not a fake one. So unless #20 refers to Steve Colter, the Heat have agreed to terms with Ray Allen.”
Before I could process the information, tweets followed from Adrian Wojnarowski and others repeating the same news. The Big Three Era for the Celtics is officially over because Ray Allen ended it.
He chose to go to the team that knocked Boston out of the playoffs the last two years. That hurts. He will now get to camp out at the three-point line in a Heat uniform getting wide open looks due to Lebron’s presence. That hurts. And he took less money to do so. That really hurts.
Allen wanted out. He broke up with the Celtics for the younger, prettier Miami Heat. Allen had grown to feel unwanted in Boston and Pat Riley and the Heat took advantage of those feelings in wooing Ray to Miami.
Reports are continuing to surface that Ray did not like being replaced by Avery Bradley in the starting lineup.
That Ray did not want to play with Rajon Rondo anymore.
But the reason why matters less than the fact it happened. Like many Celtics fans, I have spent the weeks since the end of the season convincing myself that if they can be healthy, and if Avery Bradley can continue to improve, and if Jeff Green can show Danny Ainge knew what he was doing when he traded for him, and if they can get some production from draft picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, that maybe the Big Three-era Celtics could win another ring.
For the Big Three to be able to win another title together though, first and foremost there needed to still be a Big Three in Boston next season. Based probably on blind hope, I always thought Allen would return to the Celtics, especially after Kevin Garnett re-signed. Surely the bond he had playing with Garnett and Paul Pierce and for Doc Rivers would bring him back to Boston.
If there was any doubt where he would sign, that Boston put the best offer on the table had to tilt the scales in the Celtics’ favor. Right?
It did not.
Did I mention yet that this hurts?
I find myself beyond conflicted on how to feel. As a basketball junkie, it was a privilege to watch Ray Allen shoot threes for five seasons as a Boston Celtic. He helped raise banner 17 to the rafters and between Allen, KG, and Pierce, he sacrificed the most of his own game to make it work.
I close my eyes and I can see Allen abusing Sasha Vujacic to score the clinching hoop in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Finals. I see him raining threes on the Lakers in the decisive Game Six. I see him going for fifty-one points – including nine three pointers – against the Bulls in the 2009 playoffs.
All of that should make me smile. But just as quickly I see him now in a Heat uniform.
I want to be angry. How can he choose the Heat? How can he not get how much this will hurt and anger Boston fans?
I want to be bitter. Maybe he won’t be happy with his role in Miami. They already have Dwyane Wade at shooting guard. Where will Ray fit in?
Being bitter does not help and only brings me back to the stark reality of the situation.
He is Ray Allen. In the instant he chose Miami over Boston, he made the Heat better and the Celtics worse.
Put simply – needing a three, who would you rather have on the floor?
Thanks for the memories Ray. It was a pleasure to watch you as a member of the Celtics. But, like Paul Cicero with Henry Hill in Goodfellas, now I gotta turn my back on you.