Nearly two years after spurning Boston for the promise of championships, warm weather and golf outfits plucked right out of a crayon box, Allen returned to Beantown again Wednesday night, facing faint choruses of boos. But for those who care, he doesn't hold a grudge.
"Of course (a number retirement) would mean something," Allen said after the LeBron James-less Miami Heat fell to the Celtics, per the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy. "It would be one of the single greatest honors in my career."
Too soon, Ray. Too soon.
The Celtics are still lamenting the departures of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who were shipped to the Brooklyn Nets in order to kick-start a painful rebuild. Boston is not yet in the business of honoring treacherous, championship-seeking shooting guards.
That I'm only half-kidding is kind of serious.
Unlike Garnett and Pierce's departure, Allen's exit was viewed as an act of betrayal. He was fiercely booed during his first return to Boston and later on in the 2012-13 campaign, receiving a mixed welcome from the crowd when a tribute video played.
Things became more awkward this past October when James took some shots at Garnett and Pierce, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
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.
Garnett then responded in kind, via CBS Sports' Ken Berger:
More than a year later, tension still existed. It still exists. Murphy writes that Garnett and Pierce continue to "shun" Allen.
Time softens blows and heals most things, though. This could be one of those things.
Allen spent five seasons in Boston. He helped the team win a title. Now that the Celtics are rebuilding, the organization and its fans can finally move on.
One day, Allen's jersey could be hanging from Boston's rafters, situated next to Garnett's and Pierce's. That could happen.
It sort of has to if Garnett's is eventually retired, doesn't it? One additional year of service before ultimately leaving in the face of a rebuild—not completely unlike Allen did—cannot make him that much more valuable to Boston's legacy, can it?
"I love this city, my family loves this city," Allen said, per Murphy. "It remains my home. We live only an hour from here, so it didn’t change. I know the people who understood me and the situation I was in. That’s what I cared about."
"I remember so many great things," he later added.
In due time, when Boston's former Big Three is removed from the NBA, one of those "great things" may include looking on as Allen's No. 20 jersey joins ranks that will inevitably include two players he once called teammates, whom he once considered friends.