It’s the feud that will never, apparently, die. Ray Allen spent five seasons with the Celtics, made three All-Star teams, scored 16.7 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting and 40.9 percent 3-point shooting, helped the team to the 2008 championship and nearly got them one in 2010, too.
But it is Allen’s decision to bolt from Boston in the summer of 2012 when he was 36 years old and it was evident that the aging Celtics had seen their championship window close, that remains a hot topic for Celtics backers.
You might remember that the Celtics had offered Allen a two-year, $12 million deal. He wanted three years and $24 million.
When Boston would not give him that, he instead signed with the Celtics’ then-rival Miami Heat. Making matters worse, he went to Miami on a steep discount—he took $6 million over two years to play for the Heat.
Much has happened since, though. It’s been eight years, after all. Doc Rivers, who was the team’s coach at the time, has some advice for those in Boston who can’t forgive Allen. “We won a title with Ray,” Rivers said on Saturday. “We need to get over it.”
Rivers can speak from experience. After all, he did much the same thing as Allen by leaving Boston, only a year later. After the Celtics finished 41-40 in the 2012-13 season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Knicks, Rivers forced his way out of Boston, replacing Vinny Del Negro as coach of the Clippers.
The Celtics pulled off a massive trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with the Nets thereafter and began a rebuilding program under new coach Brad Stevens. But while there is still plenty of vitriol for Allen, Rivers is regularly cheered in Boston.
Ainge Discusses Retiring Ray Allen’s Number
The topic resurfaced this week after it was revealed that the Celtics would retire Garnett’s No. 5, despite the fact that Garnett played only six seasons with Boston. Allen famously avoided the TD Garden when the team retired Paul Pierce’s number in 2018, but Allen said he was not invited.
On Wednesday, appearing on 98.5 Sports Hub in Boston, team general manager Danny Ainge was asked whether retiring Allen’s No. 20—alongside No. 5 and Pierce’s No. 34—could be in the offing, too.
Ainge said his own personal relationship with Allen is good, however, “I know that’s not the exact same feeling of everybody in the organization.”
Ainge suggested that a decision on retiring his number is above his pay grade, pointing toward team owner Wyc Grousbeck.
“These are not my decisions,” Ainge said. “So if someone asks my opinion on this, I’ll weigh in at the appropriate time. But this is Wyc’s team and he gets to make those decisions.”
Ainge was asked whether Allen’s decision to leave Boston would affect the potential retiring of his number.
“Sure, sure that’ll have some impact,” Ainge said.
Celtics Nearly Traded Ray Allen in 2012
Allen has always held that there has been a double-standard about how he is viewed in Boston. Many forget that, months before he left for Miami, the Celtics were deep in talks to trade Allen to Memphis for O.J. Mayo. The Celtics pushed the Grizzlies to up their offer, though, and the trade fell apart. But Allen was well aware that it was going on.
In 2013, Allen explained that the trade rumors influenced his decision to leave Boston. “I took that into my summer,” he told SLAM magazine, “that I could potentially—regardless of what I did for the team, there’s no great loyalty shown amongst the teams to the players, ’cause they’ll trade you in a heartbeat. When they trade you, they’ll tell you, ‘We’re a team but we have to do what’s best for our squad.’ As a player, if we want more money or ask for a trade we are looked upon as being greedy, or disloyal.”
He was also having sometimes public issues with point guard Rajon Rondo. And the Celtics were looking to move guard Avery Bradley into the starting lineup.
“So let me see if I got this straight,” Allen wrote in his memoir, From the Outside. “You want to pay me less money. You want to bring me off the bench. You want to continue to run the offense around Rondo. Now tell me again exactly why I would want to sign this contract?”
He didn’t sign it. It’s hard to blame him for not signing it. But some in the Celtics organization, it seems, blame him anyway.