You see him entering the arena much earlier than anybody else. He likes knowing where he is going to play, the spots from where he will be impossible to be stopped. He needs to silently communicate with the place he is willing to own some hours later. He inspects the lines, checks the nets, observes the little details on every court. Then he starts shooting from every corner, his technique is pure, perfect.
The previous night he went to sleep at the right time, trying to get the most sleep possible. He probably ate a healthy dinner, same as the one he had before his last Celtics win versus the Heat. It's quite likely he checked that everything was perfect with his family and friends before going to bed.
And today, he is ready to do his job with an absolute perfection. He came to the arena with a classy suit, perfectly shaved, as a businessman ready to work in some high standard company. He is extremely polite, talks like the best of the writers with diplomacy and respect. He looks at you when he is talking, he is patient with questions and never loses composure. It is part of his job and he does it without hesitation.
When he finally reaches the locker room and he gets in his Celtics uniform you can see he has no tattoos, no headband. If it wasn't for Richard Hamilton's nails in 2008 he would wear nothing on his arms either. He concentrates on every detail, but only of that which may endanger his job. This is the perfect professional, the perfect athlete, the true role model to follow.
Ray Allen is the most polished player the NBA has seen in a very long time. His skills have been exploited and managed to perfection, his shooting technique probably the best ever. He is one of the best shooting players ever, period. He can shoot from anywhere, he can score anytime. He can prepare for that shot for 47 minutes and no matter if he has had a good or a bad day, he will score the shot to win the game.
Sometimes it is difficult to notice him, in particular when he plays on the road. When he scores there is no big celebration, no shouting, no showing off signs. He starts scoring, passing, driving to the rim. And there is a point in the third quarter when you realize that he already has 4 three pointers and +20 points. He silently kills you. He does it with perfection, he insists on hitting there where it hurts you the most: the three point line. Always ready to score, always ready to win.
Ray Allen has been nine times selected to play with the stars in February, is currently the second all time three point scorer in the history of the game, is one of the best free throw shooters ever, has almost 21000 career points and yet his best achievement is to have been rewarded all his long years of professional activity with an NBA championship in 2008. It was the perfect recognition to a man that does his job, always. No excuses allowed. When his kid got sick during the Finals he still played hard and had some of his best games on a Celtics uniform. He is just like that, ready to do what they pay him to do.
Tonight, his team starts a very rough series against the league leaders, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had some tough games against them in 2008. You can be sure that Ray remembers this. They didn't let him do his job right. They double teamed him, they broke his rhythm, his shots weren't naturally chosen. Look for Ray Allen to finish the job he couldn't fulfill back then.
Ray Allen wants to prove he can still do his job in the best way possible at the age of 34. He wants to show that he is able to take care of himself and of his teammates as well as when he was younger. He wants to show that the right way to do things will always lead you to the highest goals. And the highest point of an NBA player is the championship.
Logic says, Ray and the Celtics will be right. The justice in sports should judge once again in favor of the job done perfectly. The Celtics have a chance to be rewarded again. It starts tonight.
Thank you for your example, Ray. We can always count on you.