Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. Heat-Celtics game was supposed to be all about Ray Allen and his return to Boston. Then, word came down about Rajon Rondo‘s ACL tear, and the day became all about the injured point guard.
But just because the Celtics lost Rondo for the season doesn’t mean you can forget all about Allen’s five seasons with Boston and his emotional return to the TD Garden. Allen didn’t know what to expect in his return, but he wasn’t anticipating getting booed every time he touched the ball.
“I didn’t expect to get booed the whole time, throughout the game, that I touched the ball,” Allen said. “That was interesting.”
The Celtics showed a tribute video to Allen prior to the game. While fans didn’t know how to react once the video started — with many fans choosing boos over cheers — eventually, the crowd was in support of Allen, even if it didn’t last very long.
“I think the better heads prevailed and they say, ‘Hey, this is our guy regardless of where he’s playing,” Allen said. “You know we all have a history together, and that always comes to the forefront and always resurfaces and people remember the great times.”
Allen famously picked the Heat over the Celtics because he felt Miami wanted him more. He gets to play with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of last year’s NBA Champions now. James was surprised to see the tribute video the Celtics set up for his new teammate, but he offered some nice words about the Celtics’ franchise.
“It was surprising at first to see that happening,” James said. “But this is a class organization and I was happy for Ray and I bet his family was happy as well.”
Allen played for the Celtics from 2007 to 2012. He helped take home the 2008 NBA Championship as part of the new Big Three formed with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Pierce didn’t discuss his former teammate’s return at length and chose instead to focus on the game, which the Celtics won 100-98.
“You know, at the end of the day, what happened to Ray is never good for this franchise,” Pierce said. “But it wasn’t about Ray. It was about us playing the defending champs. Miami versus Boston.”
Allen didn’t start for the Heat, but he was still a big contributor off the bench despite Miami’s loss. Allen scored 21 points with five rebounds in 38 minutes on the court.
The former Celtic faced a lot of scrutiny for his decision in picking Miami over Boston, as heard from the Celtics’ fans’ reaction to Allen every time he touched to ball. But for the career leader in three pointers, he’ll choose to remember the good times of playing in Boston.
“All those emotions came streaming back from all the great things we did here, and that’s why I say I’ll always remember the big games we played in and won,” Allen said. “And I’ll always know I’ll always be a Celtic in my mind, regardless of what anyone else says.”
Celtics fans may not remember him that way now, but he’ll always be part of the magical season that brought Boston their 17th NBA Championship. He may or may not one day be among the 21 retired numbers hanging in the TD Garden rafters, but somewhere down the line fans will choose to cheer, instead of boo, when he makes a return to Boston. When Allen retires, he’ll choose to remember the cheers.