When Kevin Garnett got his number retired by the Celtics earlier this month at TD Garden, Ray Allen was by his side. Alongside teammate Paul Pierce, the former Big Three ended a long running beef to celebrate KG on his big night. In addition to some much needed catharsis, the reunion may have cleared the path for Allen to one day see his own number raised to the rafters.
The former Celtics sharpshooter reflected on that night and much more in an interview with Celtics Hall of Famer Cedric Maxwell on The Cedric Maxwell Podcast. Allen told Max that getting his number raised to the TD Garden rafters would mean everything.
“When you come into that building, those jerseys are part of Celtics lore, Celtics tradition, Celtic Nation,” Allen said. “And to be able to say that my number that I wore would be up there at some point in my life, it’s one of the greatest honors in this game that I could ever receive.”
Allen, who had been on the outs with his former 2008 title winning teammates since he departed for the Miami Heat in 2012, said walking through the Garden doors the day of KG’s retirement was like a jump into the pool after a day at the beach — a welcome and familiar feeling.
This is a direct contrast to how Allen felt whenever he had to suit up against the Celtics in Boston in the final years of his career with the Heat. Boos reigned down on Allen constantly when he returned to the Garden after his sudden departure to Miami following the 2012 playoffs.
A similarly cold interaction occurred over All-Star Weekend during the NBA’s 75th anniversary ceremony. Allen fistbumped LeBron James when he was announced at the event, but he walked right past Garnett. KG seemingly couldn’t even look at Allen and kept his gaze high.
In an interview with Kendrick Perkins on KG Certified, Garnett discussed that night, sharing that the Big Three actually took a picture together after the ceremony — a moment that meant a lot to the Celtics legend.
Then, Allen publicly squashed their beef when celebrating with Garnett a couple of weeks ago. The Hall of Fame forward did not know Allen would be attending the ceremony until walking out onto the court, Allen believes. As Garnett addressed the crowd that weekend, he shouted out Allen and the two with Pierce embraced at center court.
He shared how much the reunion, and his relationship with his former Celtics teammates, meant to him.
“What binds us is that we stick together and, no matter where we end up going, we always remember who we are and nothing changes,” Allen told Maxwell. “We’re always Celtics no matter what.”
Garnett, Allen, and Paul Pierce, who joined the two Celtics legends in their mid-court embrace, are forever enshrined in Boston sports history after taking home the 2008 NBA championship. Now that the Big Three is publicly back on good terms, Allen is excited to have the opportunity to appreciate their accomplishments with all of Boston.
“It’s paramount for us to always be able to walk into that building and just say, ‘man, we had a great run didn’t we?’ and then see some of the old faces in the crowd that still come to games, and just celebrate them as well as they celebrate us,” Allen said.
The former NBA 3-point king finished his five-year tenure with the Celtics averaging 16.7 points per game and hitting 41% of his threes. Boston went to three conference finals during that stint and appeared in two NBA Finals. Earlier this year, Allen was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Allen said one of his favorite moments in the Garden was actually in the closing moments of a loss. In the final moments of Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, a game that lives in infamy for many Celtics fans, the crowd was on its feet chanting “let’s go, Celtics,” showing their support ahead of the decisive Game 7. The Celtics went on to lose that matchup and Allen left the team shortly thereafter, but he never forgot that moment or how much Boston means to him.
“Winning in Boston is everything,” he said.