Where Does Ray Allen's Debut vs. Celtics Rank Among All-Time Revenge Games?
After five years with the Boston Celtics, Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat as a free agent during the offseason. He and his new team open the season against Boston tomorrow and it's going to be anything but a happy reunion. There is definite tension between both parties, particularly because the Heat defeated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season and Allen accomplished so much while playing in Boston, winning a championship in 2008 and breaking the record for most career three-pointers in 2011. Needless to say, tomorrow's game should have plenty of fireworks as the "feud" will surely be settled.
However, Allen is not the first player to leave their longtime team in favor of a fresh start elsewhere. In fact, it's almost shocking how acrimonious his divorce from the Celtics has become. Utah Jazz fans' hearts were collectively broken in 2003 when star forward Karl Malone chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in hopes of closing out his career with a championship, and that was definitely a more blatant shot at a team than Allen's situation.
In fact, in terms of revenge games played throughout NBA history, one would be surprised as to how Allen's matches up against those of others.
No. 5: Allen Iverson vs. Philadelphia 76ers
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After a decade of attitude issues, missed practices and just plain disrespectful behavior, the Philadelphia 76ers finally decided they'd had enough of star guard Allen Iverson and traded him to the Denver Nuggets on December 19, 2006 even though he was second in the NBA in scoring. In return, they received point guard Andre Miller.
Sure enough, Iverson got a chance to face his old team just two weeks later when the Sixers came to Denver. The Nuggets lost 108-97, but Iverson played 44 minutes and scored 30 points (10-24 FG) while dishing out nine assists and pulling down five rebounds. Despite his major playing time, he was ejected from the game for arguing with an official.
Still, it was a good game for Iverson. His numbers proved that he didn't need the Sixers to be great, and they didn't need him either. In fact, he praised the team after the game.
It just goes to show you that sometimes, revenge doesn't necessarily have to be a dish served cold.
No. 4: Ray Allen vs. Boston Celtics
This game hasn't even been played yet, but there is so much publicity surrounding it that it's sure to bring plenty of fireworks come tomorrow night. It all started when Allen opted to sign a three-year deal with the Miami Heat rather than a two-year deal with the Celtics, and his former teammates haven't forgiven him for it as of now. A month ago, Kevin Garnett even said that he and Allen were not speaking and that he didn't even have his old teammate's phone number.
On the other side of things, Allen has stated that Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't make much of an effort to reach out to him during negotiations and convince him to stay, though Rivers says otherwise. Regardless of who did what, however, one thing is certain: Tomorrow's game is going to feature Allen in a prominent role off Miami's bench and he's sure to fire up his new hometown crowd with some legendary three-pointers.
No. 3: Shaquille O'Neal vs. Los Angeles Lakers
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One of the most infamous feuds in NBA history was that which existed between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, who were both the stars of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty of the early millennium. Some hot scoring from Bryant and tough play in the paint from O'Neal, not to mention some fine coaching from Phil Jackson, helped the Lakers win three consecutive championships from 2000-2002, but all was not rosy on the court. In reality, O'Neal and Bryant were almost constantly at odds, as the future Hall of Fame center felt that his teammate played selfishly.
Following the Lakers' loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal asked to be traded because he felt the front office favored Bryant. He got his wish and was sent to the Miami Heat. On Christmas Day of that same year, he returned to Los Angeles with his new team to play the Lakers.
O'Neal would end up fouling out in the fourth quarter, but not before scoring 24 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking three shots as Miami ended up winning in overtime, 104-102. After the game, O'Neal simply explained why he fouled out with the words, "No layups, no dunks" for "basically everybody, especially him."
Based on the outcome of the game, it seems as though the Big Fella got his revenge.
No. 2: Karl Malone vs. Utah Jazz
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After 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, two of which ended with NBA Finals losses to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Karl "The Mailman" Malone chose to leave the team and sign a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in hopes that he could finish his career with the championship ring that had long eluded him. His lone season with the Lakers was marred by injury as he missed half the season with a knee injury. Yet, he managed to come back for one game against the Jazz on March 28, 2004.
In front of the home crowd at the Staples Center, Malone scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds against his former team. It was far unlike the Lakers trip to Salt Lake City three weeks earlier, when Malone did not play in a Lakers loss and received a mixed reaction from the Jazz fans.
Still, though the split from Utah wasn't exactly full of anger, the fact that Malone pretty much abandoned the team to go win a ring with the Lakers makes every game Los Angeles played against Utah that year a revenge matchup by default, almost like the traitor leading troops into battle against those he betrayed.
No. 1: Oscar Robertson vs. Cincinnati Royals
On statistics alone, Oscar Robertson was the LeBron James of his time. The man could score, rebound, play tough defense and make pretty passes as well. He had good size at 6'5", 205 pounds and to this day is the only player to ever average a triple-double on the season.
Playing for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1961-62 season, his second in the NBA, Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. Ready for the crazy part? He only led the league in assists that year.
That being said, Royals fans were understandably shocked when Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the 1970-71 season. Rumor has it that the man known as "Big O" was dealt because Royals coach Bob Cousy, who was once a star guard for the Boston Celtics, was jealous of how great Robertson was. Regardless of the real reason, Robertson and the Bucks played Cincinnati on October 31, 1970 and he was held to six points. However, that was nowhere close to the ultimate revenge he got on his former team.
That same season, Robertson led the Bucks to a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals.