The stage couldn't be set up any better for Ray Allen than it is tonight. Boston is facing their biggest rival, the Los Angeles Lakers. The game is at home in Boston. They guy whom Ray is about to steal the record of, is actually sitting court side, calling the game on TNT. It has been a long-time coming, but it is finally here.
Tonight Ray Allen will tie (then break) Reggie Miller's record for the most three-point field goals in NBA history. The first one he makes tonight will tie the record, and the next one will switch him places with Reggie on the list. Reggie has held this record for several years, but he said himself that "all records were meant to be broken" and he truly believes that.
It isn't as painful to watch your record be broken when it is done by one of the true classy people in the game.
While Reggie was known for his game winning shots, hot shooting streaks, and late-game heroics, he actually says that his mid-range game was even better than his three-point shooting. He knows what it is like for defenses to buckle down on you, forcing you to make adjustments to your game.
He also knows the hard work, late hours, and practice that Ray has put in to reach this point.
The impressive thing is, it's more than just sitting outside, waiting, and shooting. Ray is more athletic than Reggie was, and he could score in so many more ways. Earlier in his career with Milwaukee and Seattle, Ray would hit from anywhere on the floor, and even has a highlight film of his fair share of dunks. Later in his career, he really worked more on getting open away from the ball; something he has excelled at in Boston.
In 2007, Reggie almost came out of retirement on more than one occasion. In the summer that year, he worked out tirelessly with Kevin Garnett and Mark Jackson. They both can attest to the fact that Reggie had more than enough left in the tank to help the Celtics, even at the age of 42. Reggie debated with himself multiple times, mulling over the fact that he could finally get a ring, but he knew that he would be viewed differently.
Unfortunately for Reggie, (and fortunately for us Pacers fans) he had this desire about him to only play for the Pacers. He didn't want to feel like he was chasing a ring, or that someone else would be getting him one.
Though he has never clearly shared his reasonsing for not coming out of retirement to play for the Celtics or Mavericks, Mark Jackson believes the answer is simple: "It was about not wanting to wear another uniform."
Reggie's loyalty to Indiana is something of a rare occurrence in today's game. In a league today where LeBron, Wade and Bosh are teaming up, and Carmelo is looking to pair up with Amare and possibly Chris Paul in New York, Reggie fought the urge to come back and play with the "Big Three" in Boston. It would have been interesting to see how the team would have worked if Reggie had played with them, but it was nice to see him play his entire 18-year career here in Indianapolis.
Some things are just under appreciated in sports today. The game has changed though, and it is almost impossible to win a ring with just one super star. Besides the collective talent that the Pistons had when they won the Championship, every team that has won the Championship has had more than one great star.
Reggie was one of the best players when it came to crunch time, and he was always entertaining to watch no matter who Indiana was playing. Playing in the East though, it was almost impossible to make it to the NBA Finals, with Jordan and company in Chicago. He did finally make it towards the end of his career, but the Lakers were too much with Kobe and Shaq.
Unlike most records, this one is clearly between two men. Reggie still has the record by one over Ray, which will be broken tonight. The next guy on the list is Jason Kidd, who is more than 800 three-pointers behind these two. Even if Ray never hit another one, Kidd doesn't have enough tread on the tires to reach them during his career.
It is likely that this will turn into a debate of "what if" Reggie came back and how would things be different. The "what ifs" will continue about what if Ray stayed in Milwaukee or Seattle for his entire career?
The fact is, these things didn't happen, and we will never know for sure how it would have turned out. Just like Reggie was "the man" here in Indy for his NBA career, Ray was the same to Milwaukee and Seattle before he went to Boston. He made the adjustments to his game once he was teamed up with Pierce and Garnett, and his work ethic hasn't really changed. If it has changed at all, it could be said that he has actually put in more time and work at this stage of his career, than in his younger days.
The game itself tonight will be very interesting. The fact that the Celtics are at home could potentially stop the game once he reaches the record, but I don't think it will. There will of course be a huge standing ovation, which could actually help the Celtics in the game against the defending champion Lakers.
The anticipation from the crowd will keep them in the game and fuel them all night. Then there is the fact that Reggie will be broadcasting the game for TNT, and will be able to watch Ray break his record just a few feet away. Reggie has never been at a loss for words, so it should be a very exciting moment all around.
Some people want to compare Kobe to Michael, but there will only be one Jordan. There is only one Reggie, but Ray has earned this record, and to me, there is no one more deserving.