Rewind the clock seven years to June 28, 2007. The struggling Boston Celtics hold the 5th pick in the draft and not much else outside of an aging Paul Pierce. So Danny Ainge, in typical Danny Ainge fashion, surprises the entire league with a blockbuster trade. Ainge sent that pick (Jeff Green) to the Seattle Supersonics along with Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and 2008 2nd rounder in exchange for Glen Davis and Ray Allen. A month later Ainge would trade for Kevin Garnett, giving Boston their best roster in twenty years and immediately making them favorites in the Eastern Conference. The rest is, well, history.
Ray Allen would eventually leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Celtics fans when he took less money to chase another ring with the rival Miami Heat. And not the good, “Man, this beer has some nice hops” kind of bitter. It was more like the, “Man, I hope that guy never scores another basket” kind of bitter. Maybe Ray Allen saw what KG and Pierce were too proud to realize; that the Celtics core was no longer capable of competing for a championship.
It’s important that we don’t forget how good Ray Allen was during his five years in Boston. Not only did he win a title and average 16.7 points on 40.9% shooting from deep over that stretch, he was still athletic enough to add serviceable defense and slashing. Allen added 43.4 win shares to the Celtics over that stretch. Garnett added 43.2. Pierce added 49.6. Rondo added 38.2. So if you believe in those sort of stats Ray Allen was every bit as valuable to the Celtics successful run as Garnett, more valuable than Rondo, and almost as valuable as Pierce.
It felt like every time Ray Allen caught the ball in the corner and pulled up from deep, the shot went in. That’s probably because he shot an outstanding 44.7% on 3′s from the corner in Boston. He also played for just $10 million a year during his last couple seasons with the green. Adding in that he took less money to play with Miami, and it’s clear that Ray Allen just wanted to win and shoot.
His most memorable game in a Celtics uniform was Game 6 of the 2008 Finals against the Lakers when he clinched the franchise its 17th championship by setting a Finals record with seven three-pointers in a single game. Highlights from that epic beat down can be seen below.
Oh yeah, Ray Allen would break his own record in 2010 by hitting eight triples in a Finals game. Allen has made more three pointers than anybody in NBA history. He’s the best shooter of all time. Get that Reggie Miller talk out of here.
Since 2006, Ray Allen has shot 43.6% on 3′s during the final minute of games. Only Kevin Durant (45.5%) is better amongst qualifying players. Ray Allen is clutch. He’s also an 89.4% career FT shooter. Having Ray Allen on the floor at the end of the game completely changes the way the opposition defends because they cannot give him any space.
If you combine points per 100 possessions with FG% from certain spots, Ray Allen for three from the left corner is the most efficient and effective shot in THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL (as far back as can be tracked, basically since the early-70′s). The Celtics became a significantly worse offensive team the second Ray Allen left. That was clear as they limped their way to a first-round exit during the ’12-’13 season.
Some Celtics fans will never forgive Ray Allen (Kevin Garnett hasn’t). Some are willing to forget about his departure and be thankful for the work he put in on the team. There’s no right or wrong. It comes down to your idea of how veteran players should handle free agency.
One thing, however, is not debatable. Ray Allen is the greatest three-point shooter the NBA has ever seen and the Celtics were lucky enough to have him for five great years.