BOSTON — Ray Allen is still waiting for his jersey to be retired somewhere. It probably won’t happen on the pro or collegiate levels until he retires from basketball for good. And Allen isn’t quite sure when that will be.
Yet, as Allen’s 17-year NBA career winds down with the defending champions in Miami, the Boston Celtics probably remain the NBA team most likely to someday put Allen’s number 20 in the rafters.
You probably would not have guessed that by the reception the veteran guard got in Boston Wednesday night. Allen’s arrival in Boston for the first time this season brought about a fresh set of boos from the Garden crowd for the 38-year-old, who ditched the Big Three in July 2012. It’s clear that the majority of Boston’s fan base has not forgiven the sharpshooting guard for jumping ship to the enemy, even if it was a wise choice for Allen.
After a variety of homecomings by other members of the Big Three era to Boston this year, Allen’s place in Celtics history has been a hot topic, including whether or not he belongs in the rafters. Before Wednesday’s game, Allen addressed the possibility of having his number retired in Boston, a situation that Danny Ainge said could happen down the line in a recent interview with Toucher and Rich.
“Interestingly enough, I have not had my jersey retired anywhere that I’ve ever played. It’s not something that I worry about,” Allen continued. “Again, when I think about it – I just signed a picture for (Bryan Doo), the strength coach, and it’s a picture of me taking a shot and we were playing against the Lakers and it was just a random shot.”
Allen continued: “When you see it, I think about all the big games we played in this building, non-playoff games, playoff games. Those are the things that always stick out in your mind, that you always remember. B Doo will always remember that. Regardless of what happens in the rafters, I look up there and there’s a banner. That’s what makes it so special.”
So while Allen may not be worrying about a potential jersey retirement yet, would he be honored if the Celtics put him in the rafters?
“Of course,” Allen said. “You know, it would be probably one of the single greatest honors in my career because the impact that I’ve had playing the game. I still remember what it was like and how I was when I first came into the league. I had no clue what direction I was heading in, or what I was going to be able to do for this game, and the impact that I was going to be able to leave. So to be able to have an impact on a generation of kids, have it on an organization, on a city, it’s truly an honor for people to recognize that…you can’t get any better than that.”
While highlighting his legacy in Boston, it didn’t sound like much love was lost between Allen and the team’s front office later in the interview, when the veteran was asked if he felt justified now about his decision to leave for Miami.
“I don’t think I gauged [Boston and Miami] one off the other,” Allen said. “Once it seemed like the door closed for me here [in Boston] I had to then put myself in the pool of free agency and decide where from there do I go? Obviously, you try to put yourself in the best situation possible.”
For those who forgot, the Celtics had a two-year contract offer for Allen, which doubled the salary Miami was offering in July 2012. Boston’s offer also came with a no-trade clause, but it appeared the team’s addition of Jason Terry was enough for Allen to think he was being pushed out the door.
“We talked about this. We don’t need to get into it anymore. We know what situations were going into that situation,” Allen explained Wednesday night.
While it may take some more time for those wounds to fully heal for Allen, the jersey retirement debate will continue. Based on the reaction of the Garden crowd last night, don’t expect to see number 20 in the rafters anytime soon.
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