SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Ray Allen said his five seasons with the Boston Celtics were the “most important time in my life,” even as the fractured relationship with members of the 2007-08 title team hovers over his impending induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Allen made headlines earlier this week by suggesting that he didn’t expect any members of that 2008 team to congratulate him on his induction and confirmed during an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” Thursday that he hadn’t heard from most of his former teammates this week.
But Allen wants Boston fans to remember what the Celtics accomplished during that Big Three era and not the bitterness that has lingered since he defected to the rival Miami Heat in 2012.
“People look at how I left, but I look at how I lived while I was [in Boston],” Allen said Thursday in a news conference after members of this year’s induction class received their Hall of Fame jackets on the eve of induction.
“That to me is the most important time in my life because I had never won. And I was able to win. And that’s probably the most important thing that I want people to remember, is the time that we spent together.”
Allen had been asked the dichotomy of how he’s viewed in New England. In Connecticut, he’s a beloved son for his time at the University of Connecticut. In other parts, there’s still a soreness about his departure.
“Now, I do understand the angst that people have toward me because they loved [the title team] so much, because I was part of that team and I was part of everything that they did as far as winning,” Allen said. “But, like we all know, it becomes such a business that you ultimately have to decide when it’s time to fold up the tent. You gotta move on. And there’s so many different factors in play.”
Earlier this week, former Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed dismay that he hadn’t been able to help the 2008 team reconcile their differences. Rivers wants Allen to be celebrated for his accomplishments in Boston, not remembered for his exit.
But Allen looked at peace Thursday, trying to soak in the Hall of Fame experience. He talked with great pride about all the people that pushed him during his basketball journey and gave him the confidence to become one of the best sharpshooters in NBA history.
Allen made 2,973 3-pointers in his career, the most in NBA history. He won two NBA titles: 2008 with the Celtics and in 2013 with the Heat. Allen was named an All-Star three times with three different teams, including the Seattle SuperSonics. He, Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to do that.
Allen was particularly relaxed telling stories from his career about earning his validation that culminates with his induction.
“I think one of the biggest compliments that I’ve received is some coaches called me, ‘Oh s—,’ ” Allen said to laughter. “And if I ever ended up open on the floor they’d say, ‘Oh s—, how did he get open?’ Often times when I would be running on the floor, the coach on the other team would be yelling at his guy, ‘Do not leave him! I don’t care what you do, do not leave him.’ And the guy that was guarding me was so paranoid. … Things like that, were always like the validation for me in my position and my impact on the game.”
Jason Kidd, another of the headliners in this year’s class, did not attend Thursday’s jacket ceremony. The Hall of Fame announced that Kidd was ill and had been advised not to fly but said he hoped to attend Friday night’s induction ceremony.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.