Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
There it is. Paul Pierce hath spoken. It’s time for an official squashing of the beef ceremony in which Chuck cooks a fine meal of squash and beef and we make a ceremony of this.
I’m definitely coming at this from a different place than many of you because I never harbored animosity against Ray Allen for leaving.
It’s not that I didn’t find it upsetting, and it sucked that he went to Miami, but if we look at NBA life through the recent lens of the Isaiah Thomas trade, maybe we can better understand the Ray Allen situation.
He was told flat-out that he was going to Memphis for O.J. Mayo, which was one of many rumors involving Allen. He wasn’t happy with how he was being used anymore and felt like he was being phased out. When it came time to decide whether he wanted to be here anymore, he decided against it and went to play for another good team.
Yes, he turned down twice as much money and a no-trade clause, but when you decide it’s time to break up, a bunch of gifts and promises don’t make you decide you want to continue the relationship. At that point, the relationship was over in Ray Allen’s mind.
Danny Ainge is a master architect who has learned how to put the team’s best interests above all else. He was willing to trade Ray, he DID trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and he traded away Isaiah Thomas at the absolute peak of his popularity. Once Ainge sees an opportunity to make his team better, he jumps on it knowing fans will get over it once a better team starts playing basketball in real games.
Ray Allen is just as sensitive and petty as the next NBA star. Look around… look at the social media sniping that goes on regularly in the NBA. Pettiness is a league hobby. Ray just masked it behind a very well-polished public persona. He was stung by a lot of things in Boston and decided to go. I’m sure he enjoyed the fact that Miami was calling. I’m sure he enjoyed sticking it to Ainge when he could. But honestly… how many of you wouldn’t have enjoyed it too if you had a chance to stick something in the faces of an old workplace that didn’t appreciate you? How many of you haven’t been just as petty about something in your lives?
The thing about fandom is that we’re all loyal to our teams no matter what. The one cardinal sin of fandom is switching allegiances. Fandom’s worst insult is to call someone a “bandwagon” fan. We take the greatest pride in announcing how long our fandom has existed.
“I’ve been watching since Pierce was drafted!”
“Well I’VE been watching since Bird”
“WELL I’VE seen Havlicek play!!”
While we all whip out our fandom to measure whose is biggest, players, coaches, executives, and owners all come and go. The uniform, though, stays the same. When something like a trade is done for the betterment of those wearing those colors, we all gather in memoriam to lament the loss of a good player. We say “oh that sucks” and we move on to the next people occupying the uniform.
How loyal are we to the uniform? How many of you are still irrationally upset about that GE patch?
We take these uniforms to heart because they are a thread that connects things in our lives. Iconic games are mile markers along our respective paths. Changing them… insulting them… betraying them… it’s like you’re betraying us.
But those are people in those uniforms. This is their job. They have lives they have to lead, families to care for, and yes, sensitive egos that may need some stroking from time to time. They can’t fall in love with the uniform or else they become Isaiah Thomas… gutted by the cold-hearted business of professional sports. Thomas’s tale is a cautionary one for the rest of the NBA, and a light that retroactively makes Ray Allen’s decision a little easier to understand.
“It was definitely the toughest call I ever had to make,” Ainge said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest that I don’t share all the reasons [for the trade]. But the bottom line is obviously I felt like it was the right thing for our franchise to do. But it’s a deep and complicated process. It’s not as simple as people think it is.
“And again, being a player in professional sports for 18 years and being traded twice and signing as a free agent once and playing on championship teams and being a coach in this league and being an executive for as long as I have, I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on all of the emotions and I have a pretty good understanding how real this all is involving players and their lives and their families and the disruptions and the emotions. I get all that and that’s not easy for players and for coaches and for executives that invest a lot into these players.
“It’s not easy for these office people that become great friends with the players. There’s a reality that I see and that’s what makes any sort of trade challenging. But it’s just part of the world that we live in, but it’s got to be done. You’ve got to do what’s best for the franchise. The franchise is bigger than all of us. Bigger than one individual.”
This swirl of business and emotion is an ugly one. On the one hand, players bond with teammates and become a sort of family. On the other, there is only so much money to go around, and one guy’s max contract means losing a member of that family. Individual goals mix with team goals and the addition of front-office goals in all of it can turn the heat up on some long-simmering issues.
So here we are… again… trying to figure out if it’s time to move on from hard feelings. As Jay King notes, Kendrick Perkins may have summed it up perfectly.
“With that situation I just feel like it ain’t what Ray did, it’s how he did it,” Perkins said on TNT. “I feel like that’s what caused the problem. At the end of the day we’re all grown, we’re brothers, but it’s not that we thought we had formed a family — we did form a family. We all done shed tears together, talked about some of the deepest things — I’m talking about outside of basketball that the world didn’t know about. And if he felt like he wanted to go that way and do it, I just think he could have handled it a different way. Just the lack of communication, man, or however it was. But at the end of the day I feel like time heals all wounds. And at the end of the day, man, you never know, sometimes all it takes is for you to actually see your brother on a pass-by.”
I’m sure there are plenty of you who will never move on. I think the time has come for us to finally let it go. We’re approaching the 10th anniversary season of the last Celtics championship. The Celtics don’t win that without Ray Allen. If we’re going to properly celebrate that season, we have to fully enjoy what it was.
But don’t take my word for it. Take Paul Pierce’s.
Related Links: Globe: Paul Pierce and Ray Allen bury the hatchet
Page 2: Avery discusses his trade
B/R: So, it didn’t hurt a little bit? It didn’t change your perception of loyalty in the NBA?
AB: Not from me because you know, I’m eight years in the NBA and it’s the business, man. Anything is possible, anything can happen at any time. … I wasn’t shocked that it happened, you know what I mean? I knew it was a possibility; it was something that we spoke about. Obviously, you can’t read the future and know what team, but I knew I was going somewhere.
B/R: A lot of people think that it was a lot to give up you and Kelly Olynyk even though Gordon Hayward is a great player. How did your teammates react?
AB: I think they were a little disappointed, but they also know it’s a business too. You just have to move on, wish the best for your teammate and move on. It was really hard for me when the Big Three [Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen] left. And then [Rajon] Rondo left, and then I’m like ‘What?’ And then Jeff Green left. I’m like, ‘Man, this is it.’ But you know, I just wanted the best for them, and I was like, ‘Man, this is what happens…now I just have to take full advantage of this opportunity.’
Along the lines of what I was saying earlier… Avery Bradley has seen it all first hand. The Celtics started Pierce, Allen, Garnett, Rondo, and Shaq in the first game of Bradley’s career. Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Jermaine O’Neal, and Nate Robinson all got time off the bench.
So if anyone knows the business, it’s Bradley. The days of sticking with one team forever are mostly gone. So many of today’s stars have already switched teams. Many others are expected to. There’s too much money involved on both ends for teams to stay with one guy forever.
The system also encourages player movement. The current collective bargaining agreement makes it tough for teams to keep great rosters together. Even the Warriors have a ticking clock on their dominance. At some point soon, their luxury tax bill will be too big to justify. A guy like Klay Thompson is an obvious target to either be traded or leave on his own.
Such is the league landscape, and Bradley gets that. He’s had that lesson hammered into his head time and time again (side note: It’s a lesson Terry Rozier still needs to learn)
Bradley’s such a positive guy that he’ll look at the bright side of most things. He’s got a chance to do something really good in Detroit. I’m rooting for him.
Related links: CSNNE: Avery Bradley says he wasn’t surprised Celtics traded him
Daniel Theis on both ends of poster dunks in the Eurobasket tournament.
Life comes at you fast…
Related links: CSNNE: New Celtics forward Theis posterizes Diaw with dunk in Eurobasket game | Boston Sports Journal: Daniel Theis delivers breakout performance during Eurobasket
The rest of the links:
Boston Sports Journal: NBA Notebook: Cavs continue to put Isaiah Thomas in a tough spot