Ray Allen must sleep pretty well at night knowing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have his back.
Doc Rivers fled Beantown to coach the Los Angeles Clippers, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were shipped off to the Brooklyn Nets so that they could spend their remaining days contending for a championship.
I think the first thing I thought was 'wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston and now these guys are leaving Boston.
I think it's OK, I didn't mind it. But there were a couple guys who basically (expletive) on Ray for leaving and now they're leaving. That's the nature of our business, man. I don't know what Boston was going through at the end of the day. I know Ray had to make the best decision for him and his family and his career. Doc, KG and Paul did that as well. You can't criticize someone who does something that's best for their family.
Some of those "guys" LeBron makes reference to pulled a Ray Allen of their own this summer.
Rivers left the soon-to-be rebuilding Celtics for a comfier gig in Los Angeles, where prime superstars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin awaited him. Though Rivers accepted responsibility for Allen's departure last summer, he also took subtle digs at him for leaving the way he did.
“I tried to call him," Rivers said then, per CBS Boston. "After the year we talked fine. Then when free agency started Ray didn’t return Danny’s calls or my calls, so I stopped trying."
He also asserted that Allen left because of his ego more so than anything else.
"Ray was great for us, and I won't go away from that," Rivers said, according to NESN's Jen Slothower. "Why it ended the way it ended, I really don't know. "I think it was ego [more] than anything else."
Allen later denied Rivers' claims.
"Doc never called and said, 'We want you to come back,'" Allen told ESPN Boston's Jackie MacMullan.
Rivers wasn't the only one Allen received criticism from. Garnett took his departure (way too) personally.
"I don't have Ray's number anymore," Garnett said last October, via Windhorst. "I'm not trying to communicate. I'm just being honest with everybody in here. ... It's just what it is."
Garnett eventually took his contact-list vendetta one step further. Where Rivers still clearly respected Allen and embraced him when the Heat and Celtics squared off in last year's season-opener, Garnett blatantly ignored him.
Then newcomer Jason Terry also participated in the Allen-ribbing, lauding Pierce for his loyalty and openly berating Allen for his so-called treachery.
"His (Pierce) willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off, ‘I’m out of here! I’m going to join forces with Kobe (Bryant),’ or ‘I’m going to play with Dwyane Wade‘ — that’s a shot right there," he told CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely, via ProBasketballTalk.
Pierce wasn't immune to taking some jabs at Allen either. Almost a year later, he was still upset.
"It definitely hurt me," Pierce admitted in May, per the Boston Herald.. "Say we play the Lakers for the championship, and two years later I go and sign with the Lakers. That’s the equivalent of what he did.’"
Leading into the 2013-14 season, these holier-than-now takes seem a bit hypocritical. Allen hasn't come out and criticized fellow former Celtics for their departures. He understands why they left, because he left for the same exact reasons.
"People say things about people when they do something when they themselves would do the same thing," Wade said of Allen's decision, via Windhorst. "It's about putting yourself in the best situation and at the end of the day we all do that. You can't really say anything about someone that does it for themselves."
Do Garnett, Pierce and Rivers owe Allen an apology?
Are Pierce, Garnett, Terry and Rivers different because they didn't leave during free agency? Or is Allen an innovator, for doing what each them would ultimately do, only sooner?
Take the latter. Allen left in a different way and at a different time, but he left because he wanted to win. Just like Rivers did. And just like Garnett—who had to waive his no-trade clause to join Brooklyn—Pierce and Terry did.
All four are free to mail their sincerest apologies to Allen's home. LeBron and Wade may also accept them on his behalf, provided they can slap each upside the head too.