Ray Allen Enters Hall, Looks Back Fondly on Time in Boston
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – There were many illustrious moments that helped to shape Ray Allen’s Hall-of-Fame basketball career, but in his mind, there is one that stands high above all others: winning the 2008 NBA championship as a member of the Boston Celtics.
After donning his orange jacket Thursday afternoon at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Allen looked back on his time in Boston fondly, singling out the team’s banner season as the pinnacle of his career.
“It was incredible because I didn’t know what it took to win a title,” said Allen, who will join 12 others Friday evening to be officially enshrined into the Hall-of-Fame. “Up until that point I thought I knew what it took. We talked about winning a championship, all of us, every player in the league. But until you win one, you look back and say, ‘Wow, I actually never knew that it would have been that hard. I had no idea.”
Allen split 12 seasons between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics aspiring to win a title, but it wasn’t until Year 13, when he joined Boston, that his dream was achieved.
The Celtics had just come off of a 24-58 season in 2006-07 when Allen and fellow All-Star Kevin Garnett arrived in Beantown. However, those two players, along with Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and a crew of believers turned the Celtics into a 66-16 team during the 2007-08 season, completing the biggest regular-season turnaround in NBA history.
“it was something that will always be memorable because the team was the worst (in the Eastern Conference) the year before, and we went all the way to first the next year,” said Allen. “It was something none of us could ever imagine.”
Allen went on to enjoy four more seasons in Boston, making another Finals appearance in 2010 and becoming the NBA’s king of 3-point makes, before joining the Miami Heat in the fall of 2012. His departure was difficult to handle for many in Celtics Nation, but the memories that he helped to create in Boston cannot be overlooked.
“People look at how I left, but I look at how I lived while I was there,” said Allen. “That, to me, was the most important time in my life because I had never won, and there I was able to win. And that is probably the most important thing that I want people to always remember, is the time that we spent together.”
The impact that Allen had on the Celtics organization is undeniable. His record-setting 3-point shot helped to carry the team to countless victories over the course of his tenure in green, and he will go down as one of the franchise’s greatest shooters of all time.
Allen averaged 16.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during five seasons in Boston, while also making 2.2 3-pointers per contest at a 40.9 percent clip. The NBA’s all-time leader in long-distance makes ranks third on Boston’s career 3-point list with 798 made 3s, trailing only Paul Pierce (1,823) and Antoine Walker (937). On top of that, he holds the franchise record for career free-throw percentage with an extraordinary rate of 91.4 percent.
Allen’s greatest contribution, however, was his role in bringing Banner 17 to Boston. His clutch gene kicked in during the 2008 Finals, as he averaged 20.3 points per game while knocking down 52.4 percent of his 3-point attempts against the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Allen helped the Celtics finish off LA with a bang by scoring 26 points on a 7-of-9 effort from beyond the arc during Game 6, which clinched the title with a 131-92 win.
Brining that ’08 championship to Boston is an accomplishment that Allen, his teammates and all of Celtics Nation will cherish forever. Winning that title, in Allen’s mind, was the defining moment of his career, as it helped carve out his path into the Hall-of-Fame.