PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Over the course of the summer, Ray Allen kept hearing not only about what he'd done, but about what others were doing, with strangers sharing stories of their locations and emotions as he stood just behind the three-point line and splashed the shot that shocked the San Antonio Spurs.
But there was one guy, who has done some splashing of his own, who wasn't offering congratulations.
"Michael Phelps, we were in L.A. at the ESPYs, and we were flying to (Lake) Tahoe to play in the (charity) golf tournament," Allen recalled Thursday from Miami Heat training camp. "And he said, 'Screw you, man; if you didn’t make that shot, I would have swept the ESPYs.' Because LeBron (James) ended up getting best athlete, and if we don’t win, it goes to Michael Phelps. And we laughed about it."
That shot did more than deprive Phelps of some additional hardware. It helped send Game 6 of the NBA Finals to overtime, where the Heat sent the series to a seventh game, a seventh game they won to secure their second straight championship. It cemented Allen's place in Heat history, after he had long since made his mark on NBA history.
No one will ever point out that he missed all four attempts in Game 7.
Everyone will replay, and replay and replay what occurred with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6.
You might think that the NBA's all-time leader in three-point field goals, a guy headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame, might resist his career being defined by just one of thousands of plays he's made.
"I was glad that in my time I was able to do something that people will remember," he said.
Even if they don't remember everything, or anything, else.
"I totally don’t mind if people define me by that one shot, because it’s a winning shot, it put us in a situation where we were all celebrating," he said. "It gives me a leg to stand on when I talk to kids about being prepared. And I believe the kids listened before, but that is almost the single-most shot that I can describe my whole life around. Look, it didn’t start with just that shot. It’s not like he just made that one and he was lucky. Because I was really waiting for somebody at some point throughout the summer to tell me that was a lucky shot. Because anybody who knows me and was around me knows that it wasn’t luck. Anybody who was around me was like, 'Yup, that’s what he does.'"
And that's what he's still doing, working overtime in an attempt to extend his effectiveness at age 38. His first Heat season was actually somewhat erratic, with some uncharacteristically acute struggles on the road early.
Adjusting to new teammates, a full-time reserve role and an inconsistent shot count, he did still achieve his annual goal of 40 percent from three-point range (making 41.9 percent), while falling short of his two other goals, to hit 50 percent overall from the field (he was at 44.9 percent) and 90 percent from the line (a still-exceptional 88.6 percent).
His defense? Well, at times he was a liability, but he did compete.
Now he has returned more comfortable, and in even better condition.
"I’ve always prided myself throughout the years in coming back in great shape, burning myself out conditioning wise, running the treadmill, riding my bike, finding different ways to push myself," Allen said. "And never have I added the nutrition part of this...The recovery for me now is so much more important, now that I’ve gotten older. I’ve learned how to manage my body from an eating standpoint. And I’ve always done it, but now I realize there’s another level."
This summer, he followed his wife's lead and started the paleo diet. He got down to as low as 197 pounds, his college weight, before he even started in earnest, and endured early headaches to continue the course.
"I just started living on salads and fruit and protein and salmon and chicken," Allen said. "I didn’t have any soda, any Gatorade, any teas or anything. I just had unsweetened water and that’s it."
This meant no more of his wife's macaroni salad. No more turkey hot dogs or turkey burgers, and certainly not with the buns. And, worst of all, no more pizza nights with the kids.
"I haven’t had a pizza at all this year," Allen said. "So I miss it."
But he feels like he's now putting on muscle easier, even as he remains four to five pounds under his traditional playing weight.
"This is a new step for me, learning how to process eating now," Allen said. "This past week, I just added pancakes back into my routine, because I can’t go through a season without carbs."
All the while, he's continued his strenuous workout routines, using ellipticals and treadmills, and running sprints.
His best pace in the mile this summer?
A mere 6:40.
But as he showed Michael Phelps, the Spurs and everyone else last June, he doesn't need much time to get a lot done.
Ethan Skolnick covers the Miami Heat for Bleacher Report.
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