Ray Allen has officially retired from the NBA
If you haven’t read Ray Allen’s letter to his younger self on the player tribune website yet, go do it now.
You can always come back to this article later, I won’t be offended.
Reading Ray’s letter to himself in its entirety is something that cannot wait. It is not just a letter about basketball, or retirement, or hard work; it’s a letter about life in general and it’s relatable to everyday people, not just superstar athletes who are revered as one of the best at what they do.
It’s a letter that will make you stop and think about what it means to be alive, what it means to work hard and what it means to try your best at everything you do.
There are recaps of Ray’s illustrious career all over the web today and they’ll be there tomorrow too. There’s video of “The Shot” all over Twitter and Youtube. If you don’t know “The Shot,” then you probably aren’t reading an article about sports for fun. Maybe you’re trying to talk a little shop tomorrow at work.
If so, go on Twitter or Youtube and just punch up Ray Allen and you’ll see him hit a corner 3 against the Spurs while wearing a Heat uniform. If that’s all you know about Ray, then you have a pretty good start. Let’s put it this way; Ray’s been doing that forever and when he said at 40 that he might come back and play some more I guarantee he was ready to do it all over again.
He’s clutch, entertaining, and has been an invaluable asset on every team he’s ever been on. Ask any of his high school coaches and teammates, college coaches and teammates, or anyone at the professional level.
What Does Ray Allen Mean to Me?
Since there are recaps everywhere about his career and his letter on the player’s tribune shouldn’t be edited, I’m going to break down what Ray’s career has meant to me; just a dumpy fan who probably cares a little too much about basketball.
Ray came to The University of Connecticut in 1993 and I can remember him being great right off the bat. But the year in particular that I can recall off the top of my head is the 1995 and 1996 season. I grew up closest to the city of Syracuse, NY and have always been an Orange fan. Uconn back then was in the Big East with Syracuse and had a better record than SU that season — leading to a higher seed in the tournament.
That same year, Ray Allen was picked for the Big East Player of the Year and was the same season SU star John Wallace had declared for the NBA draft and then withdrew. He returned to SU and led the team into the Big Dance. I hated Ray Allen’s guts for taking that award away from Wallace, who I had already designated the next superstar in the NBA.
Connecticut lost that year in the NCAA tournament. SU went on to play in the finals against Kentucky and started to come back in the second half, but ended up losing. I was a teenager and watched those games as if my life depended on it. I lauded John Wallace for returning; complaining over and over again that he should have been Big East player of the year.
I was convinced that Allen would be nothing more than a footnote to the great Wallace in the NBA. I have been wrong before and I will be wrong again.
The 1996 NBA draft called John Wallace 18th that year in the first round. Ray went 5th. Other notable players in that same draft were Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash among others.
Allen had a story book NBA career spanning 18 years. He was one of the best players on every team he played on; Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Miami. Wallace ended up on the Knicks and had some good seasons, but never was what Allen ended up being.
Ray was so many times a dagger to the heart, the last nail in the coffin, the final straw to end a game. Now he walks away for the final time.
To me, Ray retiring means that the superstars of my youth are getting older and moving on, and that is as much a passage of time in my own life as anything else.
I’ll miss seeing Ray in uniform like I miss those days back in ‘96.