Let me preface this by saying that I loved Ray Allen when he was in Boston. He was the ultimate professional and seemed to be just an all-around great guy. But now he's gone, and at least for the moment, all that is left is a bitter taste.
It's not necessarily that he left that triggered these feelings, because Allen, as an unrestricted free agent, had the option to leave. He could have gone to the Clippers, Grizzlies, or virtually any other team and there would be no hard feelings.
He didn't just go to any team though, he went to the Miami Heat, the Celtics' biggest Eastern Conference rival. That's like Johnny Damon going to the Yankees or Adam Vinatieri going to the Colts.
I loved both Damon and VInatieri when they were on the Red Sox and Patriots respectively, but now their names are synonymous with traitor around these parts. Unfortunately for Ray, he will have the same fate.
Everyone will be thankful for the banner he helped raise, but after that, there will be a lot of hard feelings.
Some will call Celtics fans bitter which, to some degree, would be accurate, but at the same time, it's somewhat justifiable. For instance, like I said before, I respected Ray a lot when he was a Celtic.
But now, I have lost a lot of respect for him as both a player and competitor. It's not because I'm bitter about his choice, it's because of his choice.
Only a month before his decision, he was battling against the Heat with Eastern supremacy on the line, and now he is a member of the Heat. I just don't like that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" sort of attitude, especially in professional sports.
I get that he wants to win another championship, but he was just twelve minutes away from a Finals berth on the team he's been with for five years. Now he's packing his bags and joining the team that the Celtics came so close to beating.
Where is his competitive spirit?
Even in pick-up basketball, if one team beats another, no one, and I mean no one, on the losing team wants to go join the winning team. No, they want to play again and again until they win. It's the competitive nature of humans.
You would think that Ray would have that same sort of competitive nature and join back-up with his teammates for one more shot at the Heat with a bolstered Celtics roster. But no, instead he jumped on the Heat's bandwagon.
And in a way, you could tell this was a premeditated decision. Watch the tape of right after the Celtics lost Game 7. At the time it seemed like Ray was running around hugging the Heat players like they were long-lost relatives. Now we know he was just hugging them like they were his future teammates.
You could make the argument that Game 7 determined more than just a Finals berth, it determined who would get Ray Allen.
People can talk all they want about how it was his relationship with Rajon Rondo, the lack of minutes he would get in Boston or how scary it was almost being traded. But really it comes down to the fact that he wanted a sure-bet at a ring and was willing to spurn the Celtics for it.
The Celtics did all they could to keep him by offering him double the money and a no-trade clause, but Ray was having none of it.
Now instead of a retired number and potentially helping raise another banner in Boston, he just dug his own grave in the city. Like me, I'm sure people have lost respect for him as a competitor for his decision and as a person for his willingness to abandon this city and his teammates.
I would love to wish Ray the best in Miami, but what it really boils down to though is this: I was a big fan of Ray Allen, but I'm a Celtics fan first and as a Celtics fan, I don't like the Heat. Ray Allen is now a member of the Heat and because my fan-hood for him does not come close to stretching beyond my love of the Celtics, I have no choice by to root against him.
At this point, all I can say is I can't wait for the Celtics to play the Heat. The rivalry just got some more juice and beyond that, I want to see Avery Bradley cover Ray Allen. Nothing would be sweeter than the Celtics eliminating the Heat next season amidst smothering defense on Ray Allen from Avery Bradley.
Maybe then, Ray would realize the error of his ways and rue the day he left Boston.
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