BOSTON (CBS) — Ray Allen says he never wanted to leave the Boston Celtics.
But when the writing was on the wall that they weren’t committed to him, the sharpshooter had to look out for himself.
Allen sat down with Tencent’s Lisa Hsu while at a celebrity game in Shanghia, China to discuss his career, and said his decision to leave the Celtics via free agency in 2012 and join the rival Miami Heat was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make. He loved to play in front of the Boston fans and never wanted to leave New England (he lived in Connecticut). But it was clear the Celtics were ready to move on from him, as Danny Ainge had already tried to trade the veteran shooter the season before, and Allen says the team didn’t present the best option for him when he was able to choose his next team.
“That was one of the hardest decisions I had to make because I didn’t want to leave,” said Allen. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes. Players and organizations understand it. But when I left, what you know is that everybody on one side is going to say everything they need to say to make their side look like they did everything they could. From my opinion, I see something totally different.
“When I realized they weren’t doing me any favors as far as keeping me, or giving me any protections or guarantees going forward, we knew it was time for us to move on,” Allen explained.
In joining the team that had just ousted the Celtics from the playoffs, Boston fans saw Allen as a traitor. His former teammates felt the same way, a feud that has lingered to this day (though it appears Paul Pierce is ready to call a truce). Allen said all he could do was move on, and hopes his old teammates can do the same.
“That’s the thing about sports; you just have to move on. Teams do the same thing. When a team feels like you can’t help them win anymore, they trade you. They think they can leverage you for their future, for someone younger or multiple pieces. When teams do it, everyone says it’s a business. When I did it, I was disloyal and a traitor, all these things. I always wanted to say that I loved where I was. If the team did what they needed to do to keep me, I would be there,” said Allen. “But I didn’t and it was time to go. Among the options I had available, I went to the best option that would help me win a championship and it worked 100 percent.”
Allen said he is proud of both of the NBA Championships he won during his career, and he has no regrets. He hopes fans will someday understand that sports, especially the NBA, is a business.
“There is no loyalty in sports. It’s not about loyalty, it’s about the business,” he said.
As for his former teamamtes, Allen proclaims he has never said anything negative about Pierce, Kevin Garnett or the other former teammates that he won his first title with in Boston.
“I don’t have any ill-will. When I left I was a free agent and it’s disheartening when you hear the things said negatively about you,” he said. “We won together, and when you win together you always share that bond. To me, that never changed.”