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Let's remember Ray Allen for the right reasons

Nobody in New England was happy with Ray Allen when he made the decision to join LeBron James in Miami during the 2012 free agent process, but it's time we take a step back and appreciate all of the great things he accomplished throughout his five years with the Boston Celtics.

When Ray Allen made the decision to leave Boston in the summer of 2012, opting to sign a two-year deal with the number one modern day Celtics rival down in Miami, the climate changed. No longer was Allen loved in New England, as we rapidly witnessed his "class act" persona transform into that of an evil villain and a traitor. Simply put, Celtic Nation wanted the door to smack him on his backside on his way out.

The lockout riddled 2011-12 season marked the fifth and final year of Allen's tenure in Boston, where his energy towards the organization left him with a sour taste in his mouth. Avery Bradley had spent some time in the starting lineup in December, filling in for the injured Rajon Rondo as the hungry NBA sophomore helped the struggling 5-8 Celtics win six of the next eight games as the team's starting point guard. Once Rondo returned to the court, Bradley was moved back to the second unit until Ray Allen was sidelined with an ankle injury in late March.

Just like that, the Celtics fired off on a five-game winning streak that forced Doc Rivers to look at his rotation a little bit differently for the rest of the season. Bradley started all but one game throughout the remainder of the regular season and playoffs (until a dislocated shoulder would go on to rule him inactive for the Eastern Conference Finals), and on April 5, Doc forced Allen to swallow his pride and serve as the team's sixth man for the rest of the year. Not only would he have to come off the bench, he would have to accept his new role in favor of a second-year player.

That never sat well with Allen, he may or may not have gotten along with Rondo and Danny Ainge may not have sweetened his extension offer until it was too late in the free agent process. In some ways, Allen didn't feel like he was as appreciated in Boston as he was once before and, let's face it, at age 36 he wanted to compete for a championship. He wanted a change, and he made it happen in a way that rubbed everybody the wrong way around these parts.

The Celtics had just suffered a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami and instead of reloading for revenge with his brothers, he joined forces with the rival they despised most.

In retrospect, it worked out for Allen. Sure, he earned half the money he would have if he re-signed in Boston but he ended up playing an enormous role in Miami's 2013 championship, while the Celtics barely hovered above .500 at 41-40 and lost a six-game series against New York in the first round of the playoffs. Not too long after that, the whole crew disbanded as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet were traded to Brooklyn while Doc Rivers had moved on to coach the Clippers.

Allen knew that the new era was coming, and he ultimately wanted to control his own destiny to close out his illustrious career. It was far from enjoyable to watch him leave Boston the way he did, but especially now in 2015, it's time we start remembering him for the right reasons when we reflect on Jesus Shuttlesworth.

No matter how you look at his 2012 free agent decision, the fact of the matter is that Green 17 doesn't happen without him and neither do those exhilarating postseason runs in the years following that magical 2007-08 year.

It's time we focus less on how he joined LeBron's Heat and start allowing ourselves to appreciate the impact he made in that green and white uniform. Love him or hate him now, he dedicated his heart and soul to the Boston Celtics for five years and was indisputably one of the biggest difference makers throughout a countless number of wars.

Let's remember Ray Allen for his work ethic, selfless winning mentality, consistent leadership by example, clutch performances and impact on the squad that raised the franchise's 17th banner. That decision to take his talents to South Beach was infuriating at the time, but his positive moments as a Celtic certainly outweigh the negatives at the end of the day.

Remember when he made Sasha Vujacic throw a temper tantrum at the end of Game 4 in the 2008 NBA Finals? That was great and so were all of his clutch shots and game winners, my favorite being the against-all-odds buzzer beater in Charlotte ("Let's go Cats!"). Our hearts filled with rapture over Allen's performance during the thrilling seven-overtime 2009 first round playoff series against the Bulls, where he buried a game-winning three in Joakim Noah's face, put together some cold blooded back-and-forth sequences against fellow Uconn alumni Ben Gordon and absolutely went off for 51 points in Game 6 (including nine three-point shots). Of course, we can't forget the all-time NBA three-point records he set as a Celtic, as he broke the single-game NBA Finals three-point record by knocking down eight triples in Game 2 of the 2010 Finals and then in February of 2011, he passed Reggie Miller for all-time three-point field goals made. Yes, that was against the Lakers, too.

Ray Allen had a lot to do with how the Celtics operated and established the no-nonsense, selfless team-first culture in 2007-08, he was as strong of a leader as anyone in terms of work ethic and practice habits, he was as reliable a late-game shot maker as you could possibly ask for and even Doc Rivers has noted that Allen made the most individual sacrifice in order to make the "Big Three 2.0" work.

I'm not telling you to forget what Ray Allen did in the summer of 2012, but it's time we stop allowing that free agent decision to overshadow everything positive that we ever felt about him. Dig deep down into your little green heart and you will find the love that Jesus Shuttlesworth deserves.

Don't let that grudge rob you of embracing memories of the good times. Ray Allen had a great run in Boston and from one die-hard fan to another, never forget that.

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