Ray Allen’s decision joining Heat pays off in the end
The Miami Heat's Ray Allen celebrates after Game 7 of the NBA basketball championship against the San Antonio Spurs, Friday, June 21, 2013, in Miami. The Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win their second straight NBA championship. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) Purchase photo reprints »
MIAMI — Ray Allen squeezed into the overstuffed, champagne-soaked locker room and was immediately mobbed by a horde of microphones and tape recorders.
Imagine if he had scored a point.
No matter, because the last three-pointer made by the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooter saved the Heat season and made it possible for them to reach Game 7, in which they squeaked past the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 Thursday night for a championship repeat.
“We would not be sitting here today,” Allen said, smoking a victory cigar a la Red Auerbach, the late iconic architect of the Celtics’ dynasty, the same franchise he chose to walk away from last summer.
“Who knew what would happen at the end of the game there in Game 6, just that moment?”
The Heat were five points and 28.2 seconds away from elimination in Tuesday’s Game 6 epic. After NBA Finals MVP LeBron James drained a 3-pointer and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard made 1 of 2 free throws, it was time for Allen, a k a Jesus Shuttlesworth, to show that at 37 he “Still Got Game.”
A James’ miss led to a Chris Bosh rebound and Allen, who was in the lane, began backpedaling to the corner 3-point line, where he received the pass. In one fluid motion Allen drained the tying trey with 5.2 seconds left.
Allen then scored four of Miami’s eight points in overtime, as well as stole the ball from Manu Ginobili with 2.4 seconds left to seal the 103-100 victory.
“That was my greatest three of all time, just the moment, the situation, what it meant, just everything that went into that possession,” said Allen, who was 0 for 4 with three turnovers but had four assists, including two setting up Shane Battier triples in Game 7.
“We’ll talk about this forever and I’m glad that I could be part of this.”
Allen said leaving the Celtics’ “Big Three” to be a role player with Miami’s “Big Three” was one of the “most seminal, toughest decisions I ever had to make.”
Allen was unhappy after losing his starting job to Avery Bradley in the playoffs, as well as reported differences with All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. He took $6 million for two years from Miami instead of a $12 million offer from Boston, where he won his first title in 2008 alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The Celtics lost to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals, and then another Game 7 loss to the Heat in last season’s conference finals, so he knows the pain of Game 7’s sudden endings.
“It’s incredible; it’s the best feeling in the world, just to play to the seventh game and to come out on top and win this game like that in that fashion,” said Allen, the all-time 3-point leader in the postseason who also set a record in Game 5 with two 4-point plays, the most in any Finals’ game.
“You think about every sacrifice and you think about every piece of adversity that we’ve gone through as a team, and me as an individual, starting back in July announcing to come down here.
“This is what I came down here for and I couldn’t be happier.”
When Allen was asked if he would retire on top or take the player option to chase a Heat Threepeat and his third ring, he smiled:
“I would love to,” he said.