Ray Allen has made a three-pointer or two in his 15-year NBA career. He’s made 2,559 of them to be exact. That puts Allen just two three-pointers away from breaking Reggie Miller’s all-time record for most three-pointers in a career.
He’ll have a chance to break that record tonight against Boston’s archrival, the Los Angeles Lakers. If the record goes down tonight it will have taken Ray 1,074 games to reach 2,560. It took Reggie nearly 1,400 games to get to that mark.
Not that anyone’s too surprised by this development. Ray’s been at it a long time and will go down as perhaps the greatest shooter of all-time. It’s tough to think of a guy who deserves this honor more than Allen.
Part of what’s so interesting about Allen’s record is how he’s been able to do it. See, Ray’s not your typical NBA superstar. His arms aren’t covered in tattoos. He doesn’t throw crushed chalk in the air. He doesn’t tweet.
If you look up “Ray Allen dunks” on YouTube, you won’t find much. He doesn’t break anybody’s ankles with his crossover and most nights you won’t find any of his plays on the SportsCenter Top 10.
But what Allen lacks in flash and Twitter followers he more than makes up for with his hard work. Coach Doc Rivers has repeatedly said that Allen is in the best shape of any player on the team. And he’s the second-oldest player on the squad (only Shaq is older).
The Celtics aren’t a bunch of slackers either. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are two of the most intense players in the league. Can you imagine how serious their practices must be?
You all remember Allen Iverson (yes, the short guy with the cornrows and all the tattoos). Iverson was a good player but when it came to practicing: he was not a fan (recall this meltdown?).
Well, it’s a totally different story with Ray Allen. Practice is Ray’s middle name. I mean the guy’s an addict.
Ray’s pregame shooting ritual, which borders on being obsessive compulsive, is legendary. Allen is always at the arena first, usually hitting the court to work on his jumpers about four hours before the game starts. An ESPN special that aired earlier this year showed Ray taking shots at Madison Square Garden on one end of the court while the Knicks cheerleaders held a practice on the other side. The moral of the story: nothing gets in the way of Allen and his shooting, no matter how good-looking the distraction might be.
Allen is living proof that practice makes perfect (excuse the cliché). Ray isn’t quite as tall as Reggie Miller and he wasn’t born with Usain Bolt quickness. But boy can this guy play.
Sometimes, it’s just laughable how good this guy is. The high arc, the unbelievably quick release … and there’s nothing sweeter than the sound of a Ray Allen jumper as it swooshes through the net for three points.
It takes a little bit more than just the ability to shoot to make it in this league though. Jason Kapono has won the NBA Three-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend (which Allen will be competing in for the sixth time this year) twice. But where has that gotten him? He’s averaging less than a point a game buried on Philadelphia’s bench right now.
You’ve got to be crafty and intelligent to survive in the NBA for as long as Ray has. Allen’s had a target on his back his whole career. Everybody knows this guy can shoot. But he still finds a way to get open … a lot.
Ray’s not just a one-trick pony either. You think he’s good from deep? This year he’s shooting an unreal 56.4% from inside the three-point line. Not to mention the fact that he’s a near perfect free throw shooter and that he often guards the other team’s best player on defense.
Allen truly is a special athlete, on and off the court. Ray’s one of the good guys. No, seriously. He’s actually won the Sporting News’s annual Good Guy award three times.
The 6’5 guard from UConn has had his own charity for almost 14 years. The Ray of Hope Foundation helps inner-city kids get a better education through the NBA’s Read to Achieve and Assist with Algebra initiatives. Allen is also the NBA’s spokesman for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a fund that awards money to students attending historically black colleges throughout the United States.
Above all, Ray is just a likable guy. While his teammates Garnett and Pierce certainly have their share of detractors, I’ve never heard of anyone who hates Ray Allen.
Pierce and KG have always done a lot of talking but that’s not Ray’s style. Allen’s always been the calm one. In his 15 years in the league Ray’s picked up a mere 20 technical fouls for arguing with refs. Compare that with Garnett’s 136 and Pierce’s 78. And keep in mind that Orlando’s Dwight Howard already has 15 technicals so far this season.
Back when Reggie Miller reigned as the top three-point shooter in the NBA, he was a bit of a hothead too. Fans in New York will never forget the way he used to torment Spike Lee when Indiana came to MSG. But Miller’s cockiness has faded with age and now he says he’s as happy as anyone to see Allen break his three-point mark.
“All records are made to be broken,” the 18-year NBA vet said. “I have no qualms with it at all because I know how much time and sweat and late hours he put in in the gym to get to where he is.”
Miller will get a chance to see the record broken tonight at the TD Garden. He’ll be calling the game with Marv Albert for TNT.
Lately many of our most hallowed sports records have been tainted. Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record a few years back amidst steroid questions and Brett Favre’s consecutive starts record was ruined by his questionable off-the-field behavior. Finally in Boston tonight, there will be an opportunity to honor someone who truly deserves it. And that’s pretty special.
And if Allen were a different guy, this memorable evening might not have been possible … or at least not in Boston. Allen had a decision to make this past offseason when he was a free agent. He could have gone somewhere else and been the star instead of sharing the spotlight with Pierce, Garnett and Rajon Rondo. He could have gotten more money and played in a place where it doesn’t snow all the time. But he gave all that up to come back to Boston and try for another championship. Now that’s a team player.
Maybe Allen Iverson could learn a lesson from Allen’s hard work and selflessness. Allen has an NBA championship ring on his finger and the Celtics are in first place in the Eastern Conference. Right now Iverson is playing in obscurity over in Turkey for a fraction of what he was making in the NBA. Tonight Ray shoots for history. I wonder if they get TNT in Turkey.
(All photos were taken from ESPN.com)