To say Ray Allen’s former teammates weren’t pleased with his decision to leave the Boston Celtics in favor of the reigning champion Miami Heat in 2012 would be an understatement. They had their reasons. Boston had developed a tight-knit sense of togetherness up and down its roster, and Miami was the team’s biggest rival and sworn enemy.
The decision made sense for Allen. He’d just lost his starting spot to Avery Bradley, and was entering his age 37 season. Time to secure another ring was fleeting, and the Heat were far better situated to help him do so than the Celtics were. Leaving made sense, from a rational perspective of self-interest.
But the Celtics at the time were anything but rational. They were led by a maniacally competitive crazy person, a braggadocios man of unfathomable self-confidence, and a surly introvert in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo respectively. Not one of them was willing to forgive Allen for what they perceived as treason, particularly not Garnett.
The animosity didn’t dissipate much with time. The Celtics recently reconvened their 2008 title team, and rather infamously chose not to include Allen. Then did it again on Area 21, a segment of TNT’s NBA broadcasts, hosted by Garnett.
On Saturday night, however, we got our first sign that the chill may be beginning to thaw. Pierce posted a picture (via Instagram), posing with Allen at a celebrity basketball game in Shanghai, calling on Garnett and Rondo to “bury the hatchet.”
It’s unclear exactly what caused Pierce’s change of heart. Maybe all the player movement this summer and associated discussion of the absurdity of the concept of loyalty in the NBA swayed his opinion. Maybe this whole thing has been a carefully crafted PR plan meant to keep everyone involved in the spotlight, and it’s finally coming to a close. Maybe the two just had a nice chat.
The real motive isn’t all that important. Pierce is trying to make things right with everyone involved. He was probably the easiest stone to turn. Time will tell if he can convince his teammates to embrace Allen too.