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I am so, so done with Jesus.
Not the long-haired, socialist one who gives out free healthcare, mind you - the Shuttlesworth variety, also known as Ray Allen, who infamously left the Boston Celtics for the Miami Heat, burning bridges and transforming "Ubuntu" into "MeAndNotU2". 
This opened up a rift that still hasn't healed entirely, but had made great strides in so doing, thanks in large part to the efforts of one man, Paul Pierce.

I don't even care why or if people dislike Ray anymore. He's given us plenty of reasons depending on your philosophy of basketball fandom, and I don't expect everyone to agree about that stuff. But here's what eats me now:
Paul went out on a limb more than once to try and get Allen right with the rest of the 2007-08 title team. He didn't have to. When Ray got lost in the wilderness chasing rings, the Truth blazed a path back for him to be welcome in the company and fandom he spurned. Mind you, I am not critiquing his choice to do so. I feel it's important to note that again.

I am saying Ray was a shitty friend and teammate for missing Paul's big night. 

I am going to forthright here - Paul seems to be OK with Allen not coming, and my own issues with Ray lies more in how he's diminished his legacy with behavior he was famously advised to avoid as young fictional basketball prospect Shuttlesworth, all the while throwing about how the decision to leave Boston was "a choice I made for my family". 
And that's the thing, here, I think. Ray definitely got the short end of the stick despite being - UConn/Boston glasses off - one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game, dangled in trades, and arguably relegated to the bench before it was time. He was crucial in bringing Banner 17 to Boston, and, at least up to that point, a model of professionalism. However, at some point after that Banner, something changed.

Bitterness seemed to consume the man, and several embarrassing incidents eroded his public persona further as cracks in the edifice of his greatness spread like a not-quite-frozen lake with too much weight on it. Ultimately, what I and you and all of us think about the man won't matter much, if at all, in the greater picture.

Even so, I can't imagine events of the last year have done the man much good where it ought to count.

At the cusp of my 42nd year, most of my idols have been ground to dust, and I think I am the better for it. I realize you have to look out for you when all is said and done, and that sometimes, those decisions are going to ruffle feathers. All of that is OK. 

But the other thing I have learned is that relationships matter. Real friendships, family, friends-who-become-family - those are the reasons you make those hard decisions, because without them, you just have yourself. This would, you think, be obvious to someone who's arguably greatest moment stemmed from the application of said "Ubuntu" philosophy - a belief in a universal bond connecting all humanity - and that the most important part of making all that hard work actually count for something besides paychecks is simply showing up.

Being there is both simple, and among the most important things in life.

So, Ray, while you will always have a place in my heart - albeit conflicted in recent years - I offer this: apologies and congratulations where the bulk of the conversations revolve around yourself are neither. They are a rejection of the people and communities who helped pave your path to greatness.

What we did in 2008 was special! Not only by Boston standards but by professional sports standards. The truth is, without any one of us on that team we would’ve never been able to do the unthinkable. Going from last place in one year to winning a championship is unfathomable. But, we did it! WE did it- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Glen Davis, Eddie House, Kendrick Perkins, Scott Pollard, James Posey, Leon Powe, Gabe Pruitt, Brian Scalabrine, Doc, Danny, everyone at the Celtics Organization, our wives, children, families, the Fans in The City of Boston and yes, me. Over the last few years I have been berated, lambasted and had my name smeared. You may not want to hear this, but I will always be a Celtic. (Fact). I will always cherish the bonds that I shared with all of my teammates and the people in the city of Boston. (Truth). We all gave everything we had. We all won and we all raised the 2008 NBA Championship banner together. (Ubuntu) Paul Pierce is the first guy that welcomed Kevin and me with open arms into his atmosphere from day one and we never looked back. Paul and I have spoken about our time together as teammates- going to battle night after night knowing we could count on one another and we have also talked about my decision to leave during free agency- a choice I made for my family. Despite what you may have heard or read or what is rumored- there is nothing but love. Paul and I are more interested in building bridges than putting up walls. To Paul, number 34, Congratulations on having your number raised up to the rafters. I salute you for your commitment to the city of Boston and to us the 2008 NBA Champions #thetruth
A post shared by Ray Allen (@trayfour) on

That's all I have to say.

For more stories by Justin, click here.



Image: Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 2/14/2018 01:26:00 PM Edit
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