MIAMI Us and Them isnt just the name of a Pink Floyd song. Its a semantics issue facing Ray Allen entering Tuesday's NBA opener.
Allen played for the Boston Celtics when they suffered a devastating seven-game defeat to the Miami Heat in last springs Eastern Conference final. Now, hes with the Heat, who will be handed their championship rings before the game against the Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Allen was all over the place Monday with his pronouns.
Im happy for them that they won but at the same time they beat me and put us out, Allen said of the loss Boston suffered before the Heat beat Oklahoma City 4-1 in the NBA Finals. Later, when talking about the the Celtics' resiliency when he played with them, Allen said, Weve done that in many situations before.
Pardon Allen if his emotions are also all over the place. After playing with the Celtics from 2007-12, the shooting guard signed as a free agent with a hated foe.
Perhaps its good Allen comes off the bench. Allen and former teammates wont face the awkward situation of whether to offer a handshake or simply turn away before tipoff.
Allen and several on the Boston side were asked if anytime during the night they anticipate any greetings. Nobody would give a direct answer.
Thats always the players prerogative, said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, putting the burden on Allen. Asked what he would do if Allen extends his hand to him, Rivers said, I like Ray. Its not like I dislike Ray.
Celtics center Kevin Garnett might dislike Allen. He said during training camp he has lost Allen's number and doesnt plan to communicate with him.
I have no take, Garnett said when asked Monday his take on Allen. Im going to play the game and get the hell up out of there. Period. Blank.
Allen, who declined to name Monday the primary reason he turned down a two-year, 12 million deal to return to Boston in favor of a two-year, 6 million contract from Miami, insisted he still likes the guys on the Celtics. But he wouldnt say whether he plans to greet them.
I dont predetermine what it, how it may be, how it may feel or how it may go down, Allen said. These guys are my friends. I think you guys (the media) think that I have some kind of animosity toward them or bad blood. I dont. Ive said it time and time again. Weve shared (winning the 2008 title) . Thats always going to be No. 1 closest to my heart. So when I see Paul (Pierce), Im not going to be like angry at him or anybody else. Im happy. Im excited. I look forward to it, seeing all these guys.
Pierce, the Celtics forward who also wouldnt say how he will react Tuesday to Allen, has had no communication with the shooting guard since he left Boston in July. Obviously, neither has Garnett.
I think with anybody thats not on the Celtics, its always frosty, Allen said when asked about Celtics being that way to him. You dont like the other opponent.
If Allen feels he needs a hug, he always can turn to his new teammates. It wont be during the ring ceremony before the game, when Allen anticipates standing off to the side.
But Heat players want to win this game for Allen. OK, they obviously love to beat the Celtics, but now having Allen could make it a double treat.
We want to do it for him in a sense, said guard Dwyane Wade. We appreciate him being here, and he made the right decision . It was probably a bigger decision than any of us really know . Boston sports are very big and when they were winning, Ray was getting a lot of credit for it.
Forward LeBron James compared Allen facing the Celtics on Tuesday to the Kings December 2010 return to Cleveland after having bolted the Cavaliers as a free agent.
Obviously, James departure was much bigger and this is a home game for Miami rather than Allens initial return to Boston (that will be Jan. 27). Still, why not built up some more hype?
I have a sense it means a lot, just going against your old team. I was there two years ago when I first played Cleveland, and I wanted to win that game, said James, whose Heat routed the Cavaliers 118-90. And, as his teammates, we got to help him do that.
There might be some confusion for Allen now on pronouns. But after the rings are handed out Tuesday and the tough loss he experienced last spring is more behind him, the Heat figure to feel a lot more like us.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson