Doc Rivers deflected blame from Rajon Rondo in the Ray Allen situation, but may have gone deeper into Ray Allen’s character.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sport’s (and one of the greatest basketball writers of our time) Adrian Wojnarowski, Doc Rivers was asked about Ray Allen’s departure. One of the major questions was who was at fault in the whole situation considering that a lot was made about the relationship between Allen and Celtics point-guard Rajon Rondo. Doc Rivers decided to shoulder the blame.
“People can use all the Rondo stuff — and it was there, no doubt about that — but it was me more than Rondo,” said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. “I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.
“And not starting [games] bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: ‘Every decision I make is going to be what’s good for the team, and it may not be what’s good for the individual.’”
While I do think that Rivers was trying to deflect some of the heat from his young point-guard who has been known to be moody at times, it’s not the first part of the interview where he deflects the blame to himself that interests me, it is the second part.
Read that last paragraph I posted again. “By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray”.
When the Big Three 2.0 was joined in August of 2007, there was a lot a talk about how three superstar players would join forces in and make it work. Whenever they were asked, each of the three responded with selflessness and always reiterated that they were willing to give up the ball and the minutes in order for the team to be successful. It is what made them so successful over the years. Each of the three, and the four with the advent of Rondo, knew what their role was at all times and stuck to it. Paul Pierce was the primary scorer who could create for himself as well as spot up and knock down a shot. Kevin Garnett was the post presence and the heart of the defensive intensity. Rajon Rondo was the quarterback tasked with making the right decision with the basketball on each and every play.
And Ray Allen, well his job was simple. Run around off screens, make the defense dizzy, stand in the corner and bury open shots.
Yet now it seems that Ray Allen was the unhappy one through all this. Despite having a set role and despite numerous words over the years that everyone understood their role, Ray seemed to be unhappy. In Pat Riley’s book about the Lakers run to the 1987 NBA title (that the Celtics’ would have won if Bias didn’t overdose and McHale’s foot wasn’t broken, but I digress) Pat Riley coined the phrase the “Disease of More”. The idea is that defending champions often fail the following season because every player who returns wants more playing time, more shots per game, and more money. The Boston Celtics on the outside never suffered from the disease after winning the 2008 Championship which is a major reason why they have sustained continued success in this window.
Despite all this, it sounds like Ray Allen was infected. Of the three, he was often the lesser one. He wasn’t “forgotten”, but he was never the first mentioned whenever bloggers or fans or the talking heads brought up the Celtics core. According to Doc Rivers, Ray wanted more. He wanted the ball more, he wanted the ability to create more, he wanted to play outside his role and make a bigger name for himself instead of doing what was necessarily better for the team. When Doc wanted to start Ray Allen because that’s what he saw was best for “the team”, Ray Allen was angry because he wanted more. Just because Doc Rivers, who has rarely pushed the wrong button in the past five seasons, thought Ray Allen off the bench was best for the team, Ray wasn’t happy about it because it limited him.
Which makes his move to the Miami Heat all the more puzzling. According to Doc Rivers, Ray Allen would have most wanted to go to the Los Angeles Clippers where he would start and have a major role in the offense. He isn’t going to start in Miami, in fact, he will have the same exact role that he would have had in Boston. He will come off the bench, run off of screens, and stand in the corner and shoot open 3-point shots. In fact, his role is arguably lesser because they will run less screen plays for Allen and have more situations where he is simply the kick-out on a Lebron James or Dwyane Wade drive and kick play. It’s almost as if he went to the Miami Heat just to spite the Boston Celtics for what he sees as them spiting him.
Maybe it wasn’t Rajon Rondo who had trouble getting along, but Ray Allen. Am I crazy, or doesn’t it seem that Doc Rivers is saying “good riddance” to Ray Allen?