The very things that once made the current Miami Heat shooting guard a precocious superstar have led fans to now see him as a cranky turncoat.
This week, the NBA regular season began with the defending champion Miami Heat defeating the Boston Celtics, 120-107, in a game that managed to be both closer and more lopsided than it sounds. The night boasted a familiar mix of hard-fought baskets, careening momentum, and overzealous fouls. But its most indelible moment came late in the first quarter, when Ray Allen—a man who spent the last five years playing shooting guard for the Celtics—checked into the game as a member of the Heat, for whom he will ostensibly spend the next (and likely final) three years of his career popping off screens and unleashing his magnificent jumper. Boston fans shook their heads, muttered compound curse words through gritted teeth, and a world of NBA watchers were left to ponder this latest and most curious turn in the increasingly unwieldy saga of Ray Allen.
There was a time not all that long ago when Ray Allen was a literal parody of an appealing basketball player. Back in the Iversonian early '00s, when aging white writers learned to spell "cornrows" so as to better pound out laments that the league's image was alienating aging white writers, Ray Allen was held as the antidote. He liked golf, art, haircuts, and mid-range jumpers. Here was a basketball player you could set your watch to: When Allen assumed the fictional alter-ego of messianic hoops prodigy Jesus Shuttlesworth for Spike Lee's 1998 film He Got Game, the casting worked not just because Allen proved to be a decent actor but also because there was no way to even glance upon him without inferring that he was one of the finest basketball players on the face of the earth.