You’ll excuse us for running this story. It’s Celtics-related, and it lit the internet on fire. So, much to my chagrin, here’s this: Apparently Miami, having vanquished Boston’s championship chances for the next few years, isn’t quite finished taking shots at the departed Cs.
A year ago, there was a stream of vitriol from Boston aimed at Ray Allen after he chose to sign with the Heat in the offseason. Kevin Garnett said he lost Allen’s number, Paul Pierce said he hadn’t forgiven him, and coach Doc Rivers implied Allen had an ego problem.
“I think the first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston, and now these guys are leaving Boston,'” James said. “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.”
He’s right to a certain extent, of course. You can’t criticize a person for doing what’s best for his family. If Ray Allen thought moving to Miami was best, that’s his prerogative, and it was his right as an unrestricted free agent. Celtics fans
may not have liked vehemently despised his method of departure, but it’s perfectly acceptable to improve one’s own situation.
There were other mitigating factors for Allen as well, which are the same reasons I use for defending him now on Twitter and elsewhere. He probably saw something Celtics fans didn’t, recognizing that the Celtics — for all their offseason moves — were a sinking ship. Since he is neither blind nor deaf, he almost certainly heard the constant trade rumors swirling around him, and given that he was one of the pillars of the 2008 championship squad, he certainly would be justified in being upset. He may have had problems with Rajon Rondo who, for all of the overblown coach-killer talk this offseason, probably isn’t the easiest person to work with. He had been coming off the bench behind Avery Bradley, and although the Celtics needed Bradley’s defense desperately at that point, demotions rarely make for happy workers. All of these are valid reasons for leaving the Celtics if they factored into his decision, which is something only Ray Allen knows.
The argument that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s situations were different have been presented ad nauseum at this point. Expectations around the Celtics were much lower when Garnett and Pierce went to Brooklyn. In 2012-13, the Celtics were coming off a surprising seven game series against Miami, one that virtually nobody expected before the playoffs began. Certainly, Boston benefitted greatly from Derrick Rose’s injury, but the biggest issue with the 2012 squad (wing depth) was expected to be resolved — you may recall there was a time that Courtney Lee was a coveted free agent and Jason Terry was allegedly not a corpse.
Obviously, 2012-13 didn’t play out like we expected. The bench depth turned out to be a myth. The older players had, oddly enough, gotten older. Rajon Rondo hurt his knee. Jared Sullinger hurt his back. Boston’s season went down in flames, and when the Celtics got to the playoffs, losing in six to Knicks was just the final ember, catching one last blast of oxygen in Game 6 before falling into ash.
This offseason, the ship had already sunk. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were the last two survivors, floating on wooden beams. The analogy falls apart at this point, but you get the idea. A bad season and a short playoff run told Boston what others had been suggesting for a few years: Title contention is over. A rebuild has to happen.
I can’t blame LeBron for bringing it up. Allen is his teammate now, and I’m sure he feels responsible for defending him. But Allen left Boston to a major rival right after said major rival knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs. He took less money than Boston was offering to join Miami, which is defensible when you consider that Miami hasn’t (as far as we know) tried to trade him, but it still looks bad on paper, and I’m sure it looked bad to Garnett and Pierce who stuck around.
If you ask me, both sides would be better off just leaving well enough alone. And maybe I’d be well served doing the same.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.