Walter Ray Allen Jr. is an artist. From the first time he first touched a basketball, he began creating. His expression could not be contained on paper, or canvas. Clay or wood or metallurgy could not contain his skill; only through basketball did he translate his innate brilliance.
Others played the game; Ray Allen made it into kinetic poetry. He played to his own symphonic tempo, dominating defenses on the downbeat, scorching defenders with both jazzy improv and beautiful metronomic precision. While the rock stars of the 90s, the Bulls, the Knicks, the Rockets, all got grey and broke up the band, Ray Allen just kept shooting, weaving 40 point outbursts, a conductor who drove defenses to disarray. While the mega pop Lakers boomed and then fizzled, and the big band Spurs rolled on and on and on, and the grunge 76ers and Pistons had their moments in the sun, Ray, he kept shooting, making gorgeous music over and over and over.
The cast around him came and went: from the slick offensive percussion of Glenn Robinson, the rollicking fun of Sam Cassell, the frenetic jamming with Rashard Lewis, but The Artist Known As Jesus Shuttlesworth just kept making hits, man. This ain’t about numbers, but the numbers don’t lie: no other player in history has ever racked up the 16952 points and 1920 threes made that Allen did through the first 11 seasons of his career.
Too many only remember Boston Celtics era Ray Allen, the third banana in the Celtics ensemble. At 32, he was still capable of rocking face melting solos from time to time, like his 51 point virtuoso playoff performance, but mostly he played his position, running through miles of screens and flashing his craft as part of a championship collective. But there’s box score evidence of him deconstructing the Kobe & Shaq gang with a 29 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist gem in ‘03. There’s video of him serving the Jazz a 54 point, 10 rebound, 5 assist detonation in ‘07.
Allen’s craftsmanship extended beyond the flick of the wrist; in his prime, he was a premiere shooting guard, capable of busting just about any defensive scheme off the dribble, and put constant pressure on the defense, off ball or with the rock in his hands, the threat of him raining fire from beyond the arc always looming. Since the inception of the three point line, the list of players with a full season averaging at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists, and make 2.5 threes a game is pretty short; factor in shooting at least 40% from 3, and the list shrinks to one: Steph Curry in his unanimous MVP season. Well, Ray Allen averaged those statistical milestones for an eight year stretch.
Even in Boston, while Kevin Garnett roared, Paul Pierce scored in bunches, Rondo glowered, Celtics won a ring and then Boston got its collective hearts broken, Walter Ray Allen kept shooting. He no longer dominated the action as he did in his prime, but to label him just a shooter would be foolish. The “Big Three Era” Celtics were more than the sum of it’s parts, and if KG was the sun in that Boston solar system, Ray Allen was a dominant comet; he constantly in motion, the threat of his deadly marksmanship dragging defenders into his orbit, opening the floor for the other celestial bodies that wore kelly green.
Then when it all fell apart and the band broke up, Celtic fans saw him as Judas Iscariot in a Miami Heat uniform, Ray kept shooting.
And in the 2013 Finals, as the Heat saw their season trickling away, one tick of the clock at a time, as the legacy of LeBron James hung in the balance, Ray Allen kept shooting; The Shot elevated him from the plane of mere mortals and into the gilded halls of NBA lore.
Ray Allen watched the NBA evolve around him, saw the rise and fall and rise of new philosophies, new champions, new narratives, new super-teams, and Ray Allen kept shooting. In many ways, Allen begat the Steph Currys and Dame Lillards of today; he’s the evolutionary missing link between the era when three pointer was a curiosity, viewed as a little used gimmick, and the modern NBA, where “spacing” and “gravity” are the lifeblood to good offense, and the three ball is high grade weaponry.
On June 15th, 2014, Walter Ray Allen Jr. stripped off an NBA jersey for the last time, and on November 1st, 2016, he officially called it quits, stepping back and appraising his career tapestry, over 18 years in the making. He walks away from the game as the only player ever to amass 24,505 points, 5,272 rebounds, 4,361 assists, and 2,973 made three pointers. Steph Curry is the present and future, but he (and everyone else ever to play the game) is looking up at Ray’s titanic statistical palette.
Allen announced his retirement in a poignant Player’s Tribune letter to his 13 year old self. Its beautifully written, reminding us that time is the elusive currency. We try to save it, we waste it, and for the things we care about in life, we spend it lovingly. But as much as we try to corral the steady passing of time, it’s constantly taking us further and further from our younger selves with each tick of the second hand.
And Ray Allen is fine with that.
Hundreds of games. Thousands of hours honing his scalpel sharp jumper. The sweat, the sacrifices, the fight: it’s all done, there is no more shooting for Ray Allen. His opus is now complete.
Walter Ray Allen Jr was an artist, and the game is more beautiful for him being part of it:
“Most people will never get to know the real you. But they’ll know your work.”
Our #NoCountryForOldMen series depicts aging gunslingers of the NBA, and their journey out to pasture away from the game. Catch it all season long at Press Basketball.
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.
Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.
This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.
On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.
It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?
The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.
The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy…
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Ride The Wave
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things...
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy...
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau....
Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
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