Ray Allen will miss Boston more than you think

Published On July 16, 2012 | By Tanya Ray Fox

On Sunday, The Boston Globe ran a full page ad from Ray Allen that read as follows:

Dear Celtics Fans,

For the past five years, my family and I took great pride in calling Boston home. We have loved living in this city, being members of the Celtics family and being part of your community. These memories will be cherished forever.

From my heart, THANK YOU Boston for this incredible journey.

Ray Allen #20

Why do that?

Sure, he played here for five seasons, won a ring and became one-third of the most popular trio in the NBA. But he’s not Paul Pierce. This isn’t the only team he has ever played for. He was a star before he ever stepped foot on the tarmac at Logan. Many people have left teams on similar terms before.

This wasn’t “The Decision” by any means. He had every right to go. Most athletes make it a clean break, with the justification that it it’s “just business.”

He did it because he is sad to leave.

And why would he be? It’s not that the Miami Heat fans won’t like him down there. They will. But they won’t love him. Ray is not theirs the way Ray was ours. They already have Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, the “originals.” They have Lebron James, the superstar and Chris Bosh, the perennial all-star. Ray is now just another veteran bench guy. His greatest attachment to fans will be that he is a great three-point shooter that they stole from the Celtics.

It will not be the same, and he knows it. In the real world, that doesn’t count for much. Yet in this context – in a sport of egotistical athletes that can be cruel and heartless to fans-it should mean something.

Ray Allen in the Rearview

Does it really matter all that much that Ray Allen left the Celtics to play for their greatest inter-conference rival, for less money, after winning his only ring with the team he just forsook?

Yes, it does; to us, and apparently and more importantly, to him.

When Ray Bourque left the Bruins after one of the most stories legacies in franchise history, they supported him. Then they welcomed him back with open arms when he finally won the Stanley Cup with another team.

When Roger Clemens left the Red Sox after winning three Cy Young awards, only to end up with the New York Yankees just a year later,Boston turned on him and never looked back. He is perhaps the greatest Boston sports villain of all time, and the poster boy for betrayal in the eyes of his former city.

Then there is Johnny Damon, Adam Vinatieri, Wade Boggs, Eric Mangini … the list goes on across the course of time, as it does for so many cities and fan bases. Each of their situations is unique, and the factors and variables seem to create a fluid and inconsistent approach to the anger and how long the resentment will last.

Vinatieri still speaks graciously and with raw emotion about his connection to New England. Plus, it’s hard to hate the guy who kicked you to three Super Bowls. Perhaps if Clemens had pitched the Sox to three World Series, he too could walk freely through the streets of Back Bay the way Vinatieri can.

Ray Allen’s now complicated legacy in Boston seems to lie somewhere in between. He won a ring, but he left on the worst of terms. He did what he wanted to do, and yet there still lingers an air of resentment and bitterness. He went to join the reigning NBA Champions, live in Miami, golf on their courses and come off the bench to play with the most talented athlete in the NBA, and it seems he was always waiting for the Celtics to give him a reason not to.

Apparently $12 million and the unconditional adoration of all of Celtics Nation wasn’t enough. Maybe Ray Allen will remain unfulfilled, but the Boston fans should not.

Celtics fans watched him come together with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce as a three-headed monster of veteran willpower that tore through the NBA on their way to winning each of their first and only championship rings. They watched as he shot one glorious three-pointer after another, all the way to becoming the all-time three point leader to a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd; against the LA Lakers. They embraced the familiar sight of his mother, Flo, in her intricately bedazzled Allen jersey and over-the-top cheering antics.

Ray Allen was a huge part in not just bringing another banner to the rafters of the Garden, but in reinventing the culture of the team and its’ community. It’s refreshing to see an athlete express emotion over letting something like that go.

Thanks for the memories, Ray. See you in the playoffs.

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