Yes, there's an issue of broken loyalty here. But really, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, what's the real cause of pain for Boston Celtics fans? What's the real reason behind our collective rage?
It isn't an issue of loyalty, it's an issue of reality.
That's what this is all about.
Allen is saying something we don't want to hear. It's one thing for analysts and writers to say it, but it's another thing for a member of the Big Three to say it.
In jumping ship, Allen screamed it loud and clear: He has a better shot of winning a title next season with the Heat than he does with the Celtics.
That's why Celtics fans are so upset about this.
To a certain extent, I can't blame him for thinking this way. The wizards behind the Celtics' curtain were masterful at assembling a championship team in 2007-08, but since then, those wizards have drastically mishandled this team.
Poor decision-making, poor roster changes and poor control over trade rumors involving Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have downgraded this team into a bit of a mess.
Sure, they got to the NBA Finals in 2009-10, and sure, they got to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but this team hasn't realistically been in championship shape for years.
Think back to the team from 2007-08. Consider the incredible depth: Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Eddie House, James Posey, Brian Scalabrine, Leon Powe, P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell. These are the players who made the Celtics a championship team.
None of those players are with the Celtics anymore.
Consider the depth they've had since then: Past-his-prime Rasheed Wallace, past-his-prime Shaquille O'Neal, past-his-prime Jermaine O'Neal, past-his-prime Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Delonte West, Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic.
This has been a rotating roster of failure. In no way, shape or form do any of these role players mirror the power and grace of those who peppered that championship team.
We lost our depth. We lost the elements that made us special.
It's been years since the Celtics got a player who was at the top of his game. Instead, this team has been scraping the bottom of the fish tank for mediocre role players and washed-up talent.
When a player puts up a three-point shot and the defender jumps from 12 feet out to block the shot with no chance of actually blocking it, they refer to that defense as "fake hustle." That's what the Celtics have been doing over the last few years—this roster has been nothing more than fake hustle.
The Celtics haven't been assembling a roster, they've just been trying to fill it.
The Celtics haven't been a championship team since 2007-08, and when they returned in 2008-09 without James Posey, they were already weakened.
Posey was the first in a long line of essential pieces that were systematically stripped from the team. Boston got worse while the Lakers got better—that's why the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It wasn't because Perkins was injured, it was because the Lakers had spent the time assembling a deeper and more potent roster. They were more prepared to win that game.
The Celtics have been reduced to a team that's constantly running on fumes. Sure, they continue to get deep into the postseason, but why? It's because of their heart, not because of their talent or depth.
You can't build a championship team on heart alone; you need players at the top of their game. In 2007-08, the Big Three was a group of elite guys who were playing the best basketball of their lives.
But times have changed.
Heading into next season, the Celtics only have one player on their roster who's playing the best basketball of his life: Rajon Rondo. By comparison, the Heat have three elite players playing their best basketball.
Which team would you rather play for?
Don't get me wrong, here. I hate the Heat. I'm devastated over Allen's departure, but my devastation has less to do with Allen's decision to leave and more to do with the fact that I don't blame him for leaving.
I'm hoping that Boston takes this as a wake-up call to the ugly truth: Times are changing, and the Celtics are getting left behind. Every year that goes by is another wasted opportunity to make a profound move.
The Celtics haven't made a meaningful move since they brought the Big Three together. Just look at what has happened over this offseason so far: The Lakers made Steve Nash a priority, and the Heat made Allen a priority.
What was the priority for the Celtics? Jeff Green and Brandon Bass.
Does this seem lopsided to you? Is there any doubt that the Heat and Lakers are already better than the Celtics?
While other teams are getting better, the Celtics are trying the same failing experiment all over again. Albert Einstein referred to this type of behavior as "insanity."
I love Green and Bass, but these guys shouldn't have been the focus this offseason. I love Kevin Garnett, too, but this team needs a lot more than him.
This team desperately needs new blood. Stop getting players who can't keep up with Rondo—we need players who are on his level. The Celtics have the best point guard in the league, but they're surrounding him with guys who can't keep up with him.
What the Celtics are doing is pure madness. They're standing still in a changing world.
Allen probably saw what was happening. It doesn't take a psychic to foresee what next year will look like, and Allen's decision probably came down to either another trip to the Eastern Conference Finals with the Celtics or a championship ring with the Heat.
Allen isn't a traitor—he's just a guy who wants to win another ring before he retires. For one reason or another, the Celtics refuse to give him that opportunity.
I'm a diehard Celtics fan, and nothing would please me more than to see this team win a championship next season. But right now, Allen is in a great position to achieve that goal while Garnett and Paul Pierce are not.
It's an ugly truth, but someone had to say it. Ultimately, Allen was the one who stepped forward and screamed it loud and clear.
Will the Celtics hear his message, or will it continue to fall on deaf ears?
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