Still Not Down With Ray Allen's Decision

I've come across a few more articles about Ray Allen's Decision 2.0. Here's one from the Boston Globe, no less.

Bashing Ray Allen for leaving is just wrong

Bob Ryan is unable to find anything negative in Ray Allen's decision; that's fine for him. But he's not satisfied presenting his opinion as such; indeed, he doesn't bother to spend much time talking about his opinion on Ray Allen. He declares himself objectively correct, and moves on to bash us, the fans.

I guess I disagree with his premise from the very beginning. We're allowed to bash Ray Allen for leaving, even without a valid complaint. That's the nature of being a fan. Ryan "admits" that when he was 20, he too felt ways about stuff, but he just can't wrap his brain around anyone criticizing someone for making a decision he had every right to make. And yet, here he is criticizing us for making a decision we have every right to make. He's funny that way.

Well, I think we do have very valid complaints. I've written about them here:

Ray Allen’s Unprecedented Move

Ray Allen Part 2

So, I'm not going to bother recounting what the complaints actually are. What I'm writing about this time is what the complaints are not, and why, bizarrely, we, the fans, have apparently become a big part of the story. Ryan writes, sarcastically:

Well, of course Ray’s going to stay here. After all, he plays for the Celtics, and this is Boston, the World’s Greatest Sports Town. It was no longer a matter of a free agent exercising his contractual right.

I've read a lot of fans comments about Ray's decision, and I haven't encountered anyone claiming Boston is the World's Greatest Sports Town. I guess it's too much to ask that Ryan take any of our comments at face value; his retort is surely, "Yeah, you don't say that's why you object to his decision, but that's what's really going on." Whatever.

A lot of Boston fans may indeed feel Boston is the World's Greatest Sports Town, but that's completely irrelevant. As great as we may think it is, we know it's not a big draw. Some players, thankfully, are attracted by the glorious tradition of the Celtics (or the tortured but romantic tradition of the Red Sox, or the tough-minded winning tradition of the Patriots), but pretty much no NBA player comes to Boston because they want to be in Boston. That's reality, and I think we're all ok with it.

As for Ray Allen's contractual rights, again, these words Ryan wants to put in our mouths are even more ridiculous. When has anyone implied Allen didn't have the right to sign a contract with a different team?

Those fans who Ryan is so disapproving of sure are stupid. The only thing is, I don't think any of them exist. But it sure is easy to seem superior when you criticize people whose stupidity is entirely of your own creation. Ryan goes on to say:

It had become a test of Ray Allen’s — I love this — loyalty...

"Loyalty," defined by Merriam-Webster as "being faithful to a cause or ideal," is a ridiculously misapplied concept in this discussion...

It was a very fair and fruitful partnership.

Were the Celtics being "loyal" when they sought a trade for Ray Allen around the time of the All-Star break? No

It's somewhat interesting that Ryan didn't know the meaning of the word "loyalty" well enough to define it from memory. He claims the word is "misapplied", because he comes up with an instance in which he states, unequivocally, that the Celtics did not show loyalty to Allen in that one instance.

Apparently what Merriam-Webster didn't tell Ryan is that loyalty is not a purely binary concept. The Celtics showed plenty of loyalty to Allen; and, for what it's worth, Allen showed plenty back, including signing for a hometown discount two years ago. It's not a misapplied concept, at all. It's at the very core of why people spend their time and money on sports.

It's absolutely bizarre that Ryan doesn't get this.

Thankfully, Ryan is able to eventually move past the snarkiness and get to the straight-on insults, returning to his earlier theme:

The big problem is that Celtics fans have been reading their own press clippings. People hereabouts have been told for far too long that they are living in the World’s Best Sports Town, which makes them, by extension, the World’s Best (and Most Deserving) Sports Fans. It’s all nonsense.

It is all nonsense. Kudos to Bob Ryan for calling out the fictitious morons he had invented earlier in the article.

Now that we've moved past all of this idiocy, can we be mad at Ray Allen please? Is that within our rights? I'm sorry we didn't get it written explicitly into our Collective Bargaining Agreement, but I do think it's pretty clearly implied. I hope we can get Bob Ryan's blessing. I'd sure hate to disappoint him again.

So, let's try to stop talking about the fans, and see if we can talk about NBA basketball for a second. Ryan writes:

it became obvious that Ray was not happy about being an off-the-bench sparkplug (going so far as to state that he did not see himself as a Vinnie Johnson instant offense type), there really wasn’t much to talk about. There would be no lack of suitors for Ray Allen. He would leave, and life for the Celtics and their fans would go on.

People should have been preparing themselves to wish Ray Allen a fond goodbye, especially after the Celtics signed free agent Jason Terry.

I was startled when the word was passed that, even after signing Mr. Terry, the Celtics still had an interest in re-signing Allen. How was that, money aside, ever going to be in his best interest?

In the most obvious way. The Celtics need a sparkplug off the bench. Ray Allen was exceptionally qualified to fill that role. There were reports in the press that he offered to do so, and that's the role he was put into. But it was made clear that his "offer" was made under duress, and he didn't want the role.

So, the Celtics went out and got a guy who recently won Sixth Man of the Year. Sparkplug off the bench. Done and done. This frees Ray Allen from having to fill the role. There's still Avery Bradley. But, at least to start the season, he won't be available. Ray Allen clearly would have been the starter. The role he wanted. Was there a guarantee that he'd keep the job when Bradley was healthy? I don't know, I assume not, but the opportunity was there. What more could he want?

Now, let's get back to the "money aside" comment. The reports say, Allen would have come back to the Celtics for three years, $27 million. So, maybe let's not brush money aside quite so quickly. The Heat are the clear favorites this year, but they could have used Marcus Camby too, right? Let's put the money aside and have Ray sign for the vet's minimum with Miami, so they keep their mini-midlevel for Camby.

Don't put the money aside. The money was really important. For enough money, he would have returned to the Celtics. When the Celtics wouldn't give him what he wanted, he decided to go to the Heat, but only for every last dollar they could legally offer under the CBA (cuz I don't think the Celts were going to go for a sign-and-trade). So, the money matters. And the Celtics offered twice as much.

But, the role matters, too. The Celtics offered a starting role to begin the season, with the Sixth Man role filled. Not good enough. So, surely the Heat offered a gig where he'd start every game, and just as importantly, be on the floor at the end of any close game. Right? RIGHT?

There were other teams which could have offered Allen a better deal than the Celtics. Some team may even have offered a "guarantee" of being the starter, at the full midlevel exception. If done with a modicum of... cover your ears, Ryan... loyalty, the Celtics would have done a sign-and-trade to get him even more money. But, Allen didn't really find any teams who wanted him where he wanted to go, beyond Boston and Miami. This was widely reported. Here's an article from ESPN:

Allen visits Heat with Clips out, Celts waiting

This was published July 6. I think the interesting thing here is, find me the vitriol from Celtics fans. If any of Ryan's nonsense held any water, there would have been all kinds of indignation then. "How could he even consider Miami, that rat bastard!" I don't think that happened. Even die-hard Celtics fans saw Allen had the right to listen.

And, whether Ryan and the rest of Allen's apologists believe it or not, we could have accepted Allen going to Miami, if only a single simple fact were true: if they made him a better offer. But they didn't.

And the saga continues. At the press conference announcing him, Allen ridiculously claimed, "Forever, I'll always be a Celtic." No, Ray, you will not be. This isn't rocket science. You aren't a Celtic now. This precludes you from being a Celtic forever.

But the sentiment is worse than that. It would have been much better if he had said -- and meant -- "I've loved the idea of this super-team ever since LeBron signed on, and always kind of longed to be a part of it, and I'm so sick of that little bastard Rondo. I can't wait to kick Boston's ass." We're looking for sense, here. If that were the way he felt, his decision would have made sense. But he didn't say it, and I don't think he believed it. I don't know what he believes.

All I can say, really, is that he's revealed himself to be the epitome of a prima donna. You want to look that one up, Ryan? Here's what M-W says (albeit definition 2): "a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team".


Why in the world would it possibly be wrong to bash that?

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