Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ray Allen and the Bucks

NBA Twitter was set aflutter yesterday when Kevin Garnett hosted an informal, televised reunion of key players from the Boston Celtics 2008 title team and didn't invite Ray Allen.  Predictably, Garnett and his crew (Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Kendrick "Please Give Me One More Contract" Perkins) talked about Allen in unflattering terms.

There are many ways to define "punk move", and talking behind another man's back on television without having him there to respond is near the top of the list.  Whatever, though.  It was merely confirmation of who those five men are.

This is a Bucks blog, and the topic of Ray Allen and his alleged treachery is one that hits close to home.  Allen was a central part of the Bucks' "Big Three" era, with Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson and Sam Cassell being the other two.  That time evokes pleasure and pain among long time Bucks fans.  The pleasure is from a 2001 Playoff Run that ignited local interest in the team.  The pain is from the team's quick demise; a situation in which Ray Allen may or may not have played a central role.

We know some things about Ray Allen's time in Milwaukee.  He clashed with George Karl, who frequently lectured Allen about the importance of playing "the right way".  He was sensitive about his place in the star hierarchy.  He was traded after Michael Redd emerged as Allen's younger, cheaper replacement.

Allen engaged in some back-and-forth in the press after Big Dog was traded to the Hawks in the summer of 2002.  My sense is that both men regret that episode.

They had a relationship similar to the Shaq/Kobe dynamic on the Lakers.  Kobe simply could not understand why Shaq didn't obsess about basketball.  Same with Ray Allen towards Big Dog.  Why doesn't this guy practice hard all the time?  Why doesn't he care more when we lose?  Why doesn't he take more pride in playing defense?  They are familiar conflicts when contrasting personalities team up.

Milwaukee likely stands as Ray Allen's greatest regret.  The trade to Seattle was because Redd was four years younger and $22 million cheaper (over the remaining two years on each man's contract, combined), and the Bucks wanted a point guard.  It wasn't Allen's decision.  Yet, Allen knows that the Bucks would not have made that trade if the team was winning.  The Bucks were a .500 team.  Teams led by Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Reggie Miller and Allen Iverson finished atop the East.  Those are All-Star guards, doing what Milwaukee's All-Star guard wasn't.

The Celtics exes blame of Ray Allen is petty.  Their jealousy of Allen's success in Miami is transparent.  But, again, this is a Bucks blog.

What about Bucks fans' feeling towards Allen?  He was their biggest star during their best run.  Yet, the team missed the postseason half the time and they only had one great Playoffs.  He ticked people off.  Instead of trading the understudy for value, the Bucks traded their star.  Few fans complained.  Attendance went up the following season.

The old saying goes, "it's not about what you do, it's about how you make people feel".  Who feels for Ray?  Basketball is gone in Seattle.  The old Celtics still hate him.  He does have Miami and Game 6.  Maybe that's the real lesson: there's always time.

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