Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett's War of Words Will Fuel Heat vs. Celtics Rivalry

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Ray Allen #34 of the Miami Heat poses during media day at the American Airlines Arena on September 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Ever wonder if there's some lingering resentment between Ray Allen and his former teammates in Boston?

Well, now you don't have to—at least as far as Kevin Garnett is concerned.

The league's most valuable trash-talker isn't talking to Allen at all these days according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst:

"I don't have Ray's number anymore," Garnett said Friday. "I'm not trying to communicate. I'm just being honest with everybody in here. ... It's just what it is."

Allen has responded with an excuse of sorts, first noting that he was, "a good person to talk to on the phone," and then alluding to the trade rumors that recently plagued him in Boston.

It was an apparent justification for his decision to switch sides from one Eastern Conference finalist to the other, and it's not entirely without merit.

The legendary sharpshooter was reportedly all but traded at February's trade deadline, nearly shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for "O.J. Mayo and a draft pick." Of course, there have also been suggestions that an eroded relationship with point guard Rajon Rondo spurred Allen's exit.

In any event, he wasn't happy.

And rather than trying to patch things up, he did the unthinkable.

Chances are Garnett might have been more understanding had Allen gone to any other team, maybe even their most notorious rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. Going to the Heat is different, though.

This is a roster defined by big names abandoning franchises headed in the wrong directions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors remain haunted by decisions grounded in the beliefs that they were headed nowhere fast.

After suffering a seven-game defeat at the hands of Miami, Allen similarly determined that the grass was greener in South Beach and fled accordingly.

KG probably isn't the only Celtic of the mind that any other team would have been more acceptable.

Nor is he the only one who's shared some thinly veiled parting jabs.

Celtics' head coach Doc Rivers has gone so far as to suggest the Celtics are better off now, praising his new backcourt rotation of Rondo, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, and resigning himself to the fact that Allen was no longer the right fit (via ESPN Boston's Jackie MacMullan):

"When you have a lot of complaints, you probably need to go somewhere else," Rivers said. "Sometimes guys just run their course at a place. It's probably best for all of us and for Ray that he moves on."

And even after Garnett admitted that Allen was persona non grata, Rajon Rondo referred to his ex backcourt partner merely as "No. 20," refusing to identify him by name.

Some will no doubtfully find it in their hearts to forgive Allen, but that doesn't make the current Celtics' sentiments any less valid. The refrain that this game "is a business" always forgets that it's also far more than a business.

It's also about accomplishing something as a team and sometimes coming up short as a team. It's about building something on behalf of a community and building ties to that community.

It's all the more about these things when you're a Boston Celtic.

The Celtics-Heat rivalry really didn't need any more fueling, but it's gotten just that.

Boston won't just be avenging a seven-game series that came ever so close to going the other way. It will be avenging a decision that—apart from its rationalizations—fundamentally had to do with chasing a ring, and doing so with a band of like-minded mercenaries.

Of course, these Celtics and their fans alike owe Allen appreciation for his title contributions and five seasons of service.

A pregame handshake and pat on the back will probably suffice. After that, don't be surprised if Garnett sets some especially hard picks when Allen's chasing around his replacement.

Allen won't be.