Mike Shalin's Working Press: The Ray Allen Situation needs to be fixed
By MIKE SHALIN
The ceremony was touching. A bit long, but touching. But if you saw the Paul Pierce jersey retirement Sunday, you couldn’t help but feel there was a giant elephant in the giant room.
More like there was a great former shooter NOT in the giant room.
It’s hard to imagine any celebration of Pierce and his one championship not including Ray Allen.
Allen, who had the audacity to go win a championship with the rival Heat — something he was directly responsible for — has been an outcast from the Celtics “family.” Pierce says they’re fine. Kevin Garnett has been stronger in his words about Allen, even omitting him from a planned 10-year anniversary of the title.
Allen was on the golf course Sunday. He wasn’t at TD Garden. Pierce went on television saying he was more upset about “the other Allen,” Tony Allen, not being there. And “Big Baby” Davis, guys he says he talks to all the time.
But this Ray Allen thing has to be fixed. The Big Three was The Big Three and without all three of them, Banner 17 didn’t happen. Ray Allen belongs in any celebration of that team.
“People don’t understand that this is real life for us,” Garnett said back in May. “The situation with Ray is very sensitive. I think when we all talked about doing this reunion tour, we was talking about guys that we consider loyal, part of this group. Just being honest — my two cents, man. When Ray decided to go to the Heat, I felt like he moved on. He went to pursue another ring. He got another ring — shout to him. And that’s it … It was all Celtics invited to this.”
Garnett had a proud playing career. He was given millions and millions of dollars at a very young age and never did anything wrong. He played proud. He played smart. He’s funny on television.
He’s being childish here.
The Celtics have to fix this.
In his post-ceremony media conference, Pierce was slightly off when talking about this history of his storied franchise.
“We have more championships than any other professional sports franchise, at least that I know of in America,” he said. “A tradition that is unmatched, legendary players, hall of famers, history and now I can be a part of that. My name is going to be mentioned in all of that now.”
MOST of that is true. The Celtics have 17 titles. The Yankees have 27. The Canadiens have 24. OK, even if you argue the Canadiens are not in America — they’re not but their league is — then you still have the Yankees.
Pierce’s comments about draft night were priceless.
“I think I was a little more pissed off during draft night,” he said. “I was like happy I made the NBA, but I went 10 and that was the start of it. People just knew my competitive spirit. I was ticked off in going 10 and I wanted to just prove to everybody that I’m a better player, but things happen for a reason.
“I ended up a Boston Celtic. What are the chances? It’s like hitting the lottery. I’m a top five pick, projected No. 2, there’s no way I’m going past five. I haven’t even talked to teams past the fifth pick and I end up the 10th pick as a Boston Celtic. Just the irony in all that. Being from L.A. and not liking the Celtics and this is where I am. It was meant to be. Things happen for a reason. It was meant to be.”
From @steve_hewitt: “Paul Pierce is the second No. 34 to be retired in Boston in the last year after David Ortiz was last June. Patriots shouldn’t waste any time in retiring Tebucky Jones now. It’s been too long.”
Hours before the hour-long Pierce ceremony, the new-look Cavaliers ran the Celtics out of their own building, making a statement that reports of their demise are premature.
They pounded the Celtics every way possible. I said here the other day they got younger and quicker with these deals that rebuilt a team on the fly and that was all on display in Sunday’s rout.
They’re playing without Kevin Love and there’s still work to be done in the cohesion department, but they still have LeBron James and the second quarter of that game had vintage Le-Bron on display. He’s still the greatest and this team, getting help from other teams in dumping their dead weight, still has to be reckoned with.
Yes or no?
The ongoing speculation that the Celtics will get Gordon Hayward back this season will continue until he either does or does not return — or he himself makes a definitive statement one way or the other.
People keep asking Brad Stevens about it and he really doesn’t have any answers.
Talking to Chris Mannix on Mannix’s podcast, Stevens said, “My mindset is he’s not coming back. That’s the way we’ve approached it. Gordon and I have never had a conversation about him coming back.”
As Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder continue saying bad things about ex-teammate LeBron, Thomas has made his latest new-team debut — and also did a nice job sucking up to his new fan base, declaring Kobe Bryant as the greatest player of all time.
How bad was Sunday’s Celtics’ outing? Old pal Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted, “This #Celtics performance reminds me of the Bruins outing at the 2016 NHL Winter Classic @Gillette Stadium — Everything was perfect, except the game.”
Our buddy Ron Blum of the Associated Press notes: “The Boston Red Sox plan to print 5,000 copies of their media guide during the last week of February. Their opening-day roster could include several players who won’t make the deadline.” … A belated happy birthday to Bill Russell, who turned 84 on Monday … Robert Parish says Pierce was better offensively than Larry Bird. Ridiculous. … Derek Jeter says he won’t be joining his Marlins on their visit to Yankee Stadium this season because “It will be too awkward.” Speaking of the Yankees, Rich Gossage, who has made some controversial comments during recent spring training visits, has not been invited back this time around. He’s not thrilled and his expletive missiles sent toward GM Brian Cashman included “I don’t like him.” … Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers has 23 goals this season, seven of them into an empty net. His team sent out a letter to season ticket holders declaring they will be rebuilding starting with the upcoming deadline — and then the team went out and beat Calgary and Winnipeg. …
Veteran Mike Smith, injured Sunday night in Brooklyn with 11 seconds left in a win, won’t play in Boston tonight but he was slated to sit, anyway. He’s 3-12-0 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .887 save percentage lifetime against the Bruins. Rookie David Rittich will play. … The Flames are 16-6-5 on the road, the second-best away mark in the league. … The Bruins are 19-2-4 in their last 25 games and Tuukka Rask is 19-1-2 in his last 22 starts. … Tweet from Bob Nightengale brought good news Monday: “The #Pirates joyfully announce that the mother of Elias Diaz, Ana Soto, has been rescued three days after being kidnapped in Venezuela and is reunited with her family.” … The funniest line from the crowd during the Pierce festivities was this random “Bleep LeBron” that flew out of the balcony.
Finally, the Bruins will honor the 40th anniversary of the 1977-78 team — the only NHL team with 11 20-goal scorers — tonight. Don Cherry, who just turned 84 and is still going strong on Canadian TV, will join the players for the first puck drop. The 11, on a team that went to the finals: Peter McNab (41 goals), Terry O’Reilly (29), Bobby Schmautz (27), Stan Jonathan (27), Jean Ratelle (25), Rick Middleton (25), Wayne Cashman (24), Gregg Sheppard (23), Brad Park (22), Don Marcotte (20) and Bob Miller (20). That, folks, is balance.
covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com.