Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/17/13
Ray Allen signed with the Miami Heat as a free agent. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Those are the technical differences between the future Hall of Famers’ departures from the Celtics — and not inconsequential ones, in many people’s minds. Fundamentally, however, their respective exits from Boston were based on the same thing. And that is why LeBron James is right to call out Pierce, Garnett and the rest of the Celtics for their hypocrisy now. James says a lot of things, and not all of those things are universally liked. He is simultaneously the most popular and the most unpopular player in the NBA, so none of the negative reaction to anything he says is very surprising. Yet on Thursday James was not wrong when he stepped on a third rail with many Celtics fans and suggested that their widespread vitriol toward Allen last year looks especially silly now that coach Doc Rivers and the other two members of the new “Big Three” are gone — all in moves they signed off on. “I think the first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston and now these guys are leaving Boston,’” James said, according to ESPN.com. “I think it’s OK. I didn’t mind it. But there were a couple guys who basically [expletive] on Ray for leaving, and now they’re leaving. That’s the nature of our business, man. “I don’t know what Boston was going through at the end of the day. I know Ray had to make the best decision for him and his family and his career. Doc, KG and Paul did that as well. You can’t criticize someone who does something that’s best for their family.” The simple-minded reaction to James’ comments are that Allen’s situation was different because he was a free agent, meaning the decision to leave was all his. Pierce and Garnett, by contrast, recognized that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was dead-set on dismantling the team and starting over, and they did not want their final days as players wasted in a rebuilding quagmire. Rivers’ departure, too, was based on recognizing that things would no longer be the same. The naivete of that reaction is admirable. Yes, there are subtle differences with the ways in which Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Rivers left Boston. At their core, however, all four leaving was based on reading the writing on the wall and seeing that their short- and medium-term hopes for another NBA championship ring lay elsewhere. Allen simply recognized the shift sooner than the others. Had Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Rivers or Ainge thought a championship was a realistic goal for the Celtics as they were constituted, they would all still be in Boston, together. Pierce and Garnett did not sign with Brooklyn over the Celtics as Allen did with Miami, but they might as well have. Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause; Pierce had to talk him into it. Before the Nets traded went down, Garnett may have been ready to waive the clause to go to the Clippers. In other words, there were at least two teams Garnett was willing to choose over the Celtics. That’s not exactly the blind loyalty Garnett growled about when he said multiple times over the years that he “bleeds green.” Pierce still wanted to play, which is why he became such a salesman in nudging Garnett to accept the trade. If Pierce’s allegiance to the Celtics was stronger than his desire to continue playing and chasing another ring — an aspiration Allen was criticized for pursuing two summers ago — then Pierce would either still be with the Celtics, eyeing a low playoff seed, or he would have hung up his sneakers rather than play for another franchise. The bottom line is, Pierce and Garnett were not wrong to do what they did. Neither was Allen. Fans often mistake what they wish for themselves with what is best for their favorite players. In the cases of Pierce, Garnett and Allen, those priorities did not align. That does not make any of them bad people. “We all know the world, how it works,” a diplomatic Dwyane Wade told reporters. “The biggest thing is, Ray is happy here. If they’re happy in Brooklyn, then let them be happy. People say things about people when they do something, when they themselves would do the same thing. It’s about putting yourself in the best situation and at the end of the day, we all do that.” Thanks to changing teams, Pierce and Garnett now have a chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien championship trophy next spring. Rivers believes he has the same chance. And that is all any of them wanted. It’s all Allen wanted, too. The fact that one made his move a year earlier does not mean that their individual motivations were any different, or that one is a villain while the rest are innocent victims of circumstance. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here. Filed under: Ben Watanabe, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Instant Opinion, Miami Heat, NBA, Opinion, Top Stories

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Durant laughs off Rockets’ acquisition of Chris Paul

Terry Francona wearing heart monitor in case of another 'episode'

Albert Almora denies flipping off President Donald Trump during White House visit

Nationals minor league team will give out ‘Ode to Tommy John’ figurines

Blazers post hilarious tweets after acquiring cash from Rockets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chip Kelly defends Kaepernick: He was not a distraction

Steve Smith faces suspension should he unretire

Report: Chris Paul ‘despises’ Doc Rivers, had issues with treatment of son Austin

Drew Brees trying to 'save the game' with flag football

Report: Jackson ‘laughing with confidants’ about fleecing Dolan

Report: Blake Griffin may still return to Clippers despite Chris Paul exit

The 'You get a steal! You get a steal! Everybody gets a steal!' quiz

Rewriting the Hall of Fame rubric for today's pitchers

Top NBA free agents available

Box Score 6/28: New York loses its zen

Although you have seen this start before, this season is no sequel for the Dodgers

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

Who won Wimbledon the year you were born?

Box Score 6/27: Monday is for all sorts of ballers

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'You get a steal! You get a steal! Everybody gets a steal!' quiz

Rewriting the Hall of Fame rubric for today's pitchers

2017 is not another disappointing sequel for the Dodgers

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Ricky Davis takes unnecessary shots at Al Harrington

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'Power hitters are coming for that number one spot' quiz

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker