BOSTON (CBS) — Ray Allen was a major part of why the 2008 Boston Celtics put up a championship banner, the 17th in the franchise’s long history of winning. But Allen’s relationship with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and many of his former Celtics teammates has never been the same since he left Boston via free agency in 2012 to join the Miami Heat.
“Toxic” would probably be the best word to describe the feelings Allen’s former teammates hold toward him. But Allen is making it clear that those are not the feelings he shares for his former brothers in battle.
The NBA’s all-time leading three-point shooter jumped on Cedric Maxwell’s podcast and opened up about his shattered relationship with his former Boston teammates. Garnett has been the most outspoken about Allen’s departure, and still holds a mighty grudge against Allen for leaving the Celtics for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat — Boston’s biggest rival at the time.
Allen says that is all one-sided on KG’s part, even after all these years.
“I never had any ill will towards Kevin. This is not a two-way argument or debate. This is him,” Allen told Maxwell. “He dug his heels in the sand and he decided I’m not a brother of his anymore and so I said ‘cool'”’
Is that fair? For a few years, maybe. Nearly a decade later? Probably not.
Allen left as a free agent after the Celtics tried to trade him a handful of times. He left for the better situation, one that gave him the best shot to win another championship, which he did in his first year with the Heat. The fact that the hatred — from Garnett and Celtics fans alike — is still so intense even after all these years baffles Allen.
“As a free agent, you want to know that the team is going to do things you know they need to do. What is it now? It’s 2020. You’re talking about nine years now and I’ve gotten so much hate, death threats, vitriol from Boston fans,” he said.
The Allen-Garnett relationship is back in the spotlight because Garnett is set to have his No. 5 retired by the Celtics next season, in addition to taking his spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Allen was not at Pierce’s jersey retirement in 2018, and probably won’t be at Garnett’s celebration either.
That’s because Allen doesn’t feel comfortable coming back to Boston, a city that once embraced him for the basketball great that he is.
“I’ve moved on and I’m not going to go anywhere where I’m not wanted,” he said. “And I do believe that sentiment has been relayed quite often on social media and on so many different outlets.
“These guys kind of removed me from the ‘Big 3,’ said so many negative things about me and I haven’t had one negative thing to say about any of them,” he added. “It would take Kevin and I to have a conversation moving forward.”
That conversation probably won’t happen. After Allen made his move to Miami, Garnett said he lost his former teammate’s number. Whenever Allen played against the Celtics, he would get the cold shoulder from KG.
Garnett is one of the most fierce competitors to ever play the game, and that wiring makes the likelihood of him forgiving Allen extremely slim. It doesn’t seem like anything — even nearly a decade of time — will ever fix this fractured relationship.