On Monday, May 8, 2017, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, members of the 2008 Champion Boston Celtics, gathered on Kevin Garnett’s Area 21 in a sort of class reunion that saw the guys reflect on their past successes as well as project future 2017 playoff matchups. Following a cameo by head coach Doc Rivers, the Area 21 crew tackled a much requested topic: the absence of Ray Allen. A pivotal teammate on the championship squad, Allen contributed 20.3 points per game in the finals series against Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers, good for second best on the team. The 10 time all-star also played the most minutes in the series, leading the pack with 246 across 6 games.
Allen’s lack of presence on the show however was not unfelt, as the gang discussed his absence, citing poor communication from the sharpshooter prior to his move to the Miami Heat in the 2012-13 offseason. From an outsider’s perspective only so much can be said; KG and the gang mention the brotherhood they formed and how Allen’s actions (or lack thereof) ran counter to this familial notion. However, the tribunal Area 21 held sans Allen was an unprofessional showing from a group that called Allen’s lack of communication nothing short of traitorous.
First off, the Turner Broadcast team does deserve credit for allowing KG to broach such a topic on air, as the human side of professional basketball elicits greater emotions than can be felt during a mere title run or all-time records. TNT embraces controversial topics without exploiting them, as seen during the Dwight Howard panel that saw the broadcast members dissecting Dwight’s approach to basketball and giving unfettered opinions about his poor mentality towards a game in which he once saw great success. Whether the intervention worked is debatable, but allowing it to air shows Turner’s realistic approach to broadcasting, effectively telling watchers that success is not guaranteed, rather earned, a concept applicable even to once superstar Dwight, who would have to retool in order to be the defensive stalwart and post-season threat he once was.
That said, Kevin Garnett’s Area 21 approach to the Allen controversy is an unacceptable showcase, effectively giving a team of 5 an unopposed opportunity to attack a former teammate on national television. A modern day lynch mob, KG moderated one by one as he allowed his guests to deride Ray Allen’s professional decisions to leave the Celtics. Fans and critics alike know KG is a passionate individual, and he once again makes that clear, saying, “People don’t understand that this [basketball] is real life for us.” He continues to describe the loyalty required to be a part of that “group.”
His remarks are salient, though giving each member time to reiterate Allen’s lack of loyalty comes off as a bit childish. Pierce, Perk and Big Baby create an echo chamber of contempt for Allen’s decisions, while the man in question has no say whatsoever. Whether Allen was ever considered to come defend himself is largely a moot point; it’s apparent that unless he opened the channels for communication the Area 21 guys were having none of it.
The fact that KG dedicated a 6 minute chunk of his show to voicing disapproval on how Allen made his choice almost gives credence to why Allen never spoke up to begin with. Having played with The Big Ticket for four seasons, Allen likely was aware of KG’s passion and at times unwavering opinions. It’s quite possible that, at the time, no amount of persuasion or contact would have lightened Allen’s choice to leave, particularly considering the fiery tensions between the Celtics and Heat, tensions not entirely unlike those between the Warriors and Thunder (maybe more appropriately Russ and the Warriors). The alleged deterioration of relations between Doc and Allen, as well as Allen taking a backseat to the rising Avery Bradley in 2012 probably weighed heavy in his mind, as Pierce assumed. Knowing this, and taking shots five years after the fact comes off as a bit petty and unprofessional, though Area 21 doesn’t necessarily aspire for the same benchmarks as the TNT Pre and Post Game show.
More over the language used about Allen’s choices could be construed as a subtle dig that leaves a bad aftertaste. “Think about when you’re with a girl for so long, nine or ten years and then you break up, it’s sour.” Pierce remarked. He continued, “It almost feels like you’re married, and you come home and the wife and the kids, and the clothes and everything is out the house, you didn’t get a note or nothing!” At face value, these words just echo the sentiments shared earlier, though the feminizing connotations paint Allen as an impulsive ring chaser despite prior presumptions that he wasn’t happy with the circumstances in Boston.
Interestingly, when it came time for Rondo to chime in, the point guard had little to say. KG’s jabs of, “You chilling though?,” to try and elicit a reaction from Rondo are eventually met with a standoffish reply, “I’m good.”
Rondo understands the feeling of universal contempt better than many in the sports world. Following a disastrous season under Rick Carlisle in 2016, Rondo was subject to benching, despite claims that he’d usher in a playoff push for the sixth seeded Mavs. Even just this year Rondo was sidelined at the behest of the coach Fred Hoiberg, notably on his bobble-head giveaway night, adding to the assertions of his incompatibility in certain programs. Rondo’s shying away from scorning Ray Allen’s decision to leave Boston signaled the end of the tirade on the future Hall of Famer, a choice that oozed the same veteran savvy he showed this offseason in two games before breaking his thumb.
End the end, KG and pals still aren’t talking to Ray Allen, meanwhile Allen posted a picture directly reflective of his thoughts on the matter. Does, any of this “beef” really matter. Well, no. Vets will be vets and Ray will keep on serving up healthy food in South Beach.
Did you give this conversation a second thought? Am I grasping at straws? Let me know on twitter @bjtripleot or via email @firstname.lastname@example.org.