|Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler - Getty Images|
Congratulations to the Miami Heat -- your NBA Champions in 2013.
No, you're not stuck in an episode of that four season-long 90's sitcom called the Early Edition, though that would be kind of cool.
No, instead, this is just a declaration and prediction of sorts after the Heat came to terms with their top free agent target -- veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen.
I know, I can't believe it either. Allen aka "Jesus Shuttlesworth" is taking his talents to South Beach to join the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Was Boston offering more money than Miami? Easily. In fact, almost double. Boston was prepared to offer Allen a two-year, $12 million deal (and a no-trade clause) while the cap-restrained Heat could only offer Allen the "mini" mid-level exception, worth just over $3 million a year and could be worth a little over $9.5 million over the next three seasons. According to the Boston Herald, Allen was reportedly seeking a three-year, $27 million deal.
Why then, did the best long-range sniper in NBA choose Miami's less money over Boston's more? That's easy -- a championsip, no. Championships. Oh, and there is also the reported rift between Allen and Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo. I doubt that had a huge impact on Ray's decision considering the two are both adults and would no doubt have found a way to work together if need be, but whether there was anything there or not, it's all water under the bridge at this point.
Though Boston made it public this off-season that they wanted to retain Allen and make one last push with their aging Big Three, it's hard to blame the guy to want to take an easier road to chase more rings and add to the one he won in Boston back in 2008. It's even easier to understand his decision after he was moved to the bench in favor of the younger Avery Bradley last season (a role that was rumored he would have again this season if he returned to Beantown). Then you add in the fact that the C's inked Jason "The Jet" Terry to a three-year deal, and you can see why Allen's skepticism regarding his role in Boston continued to grow.
Like some Suns fans with Steve Nash, there will be more than a few sour Celtics fans who have now branded Allen a traitor -- a Judas instead of Jesus [Shuttlesworth].
You can't blame them for feeling that way. As much as we always here the company line that professional sports is a business; it's not only that for us fans. Every year, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and religiously support our teams through thick and thin, so after unconditionally supporting the team and its players for so long, it's easy to see why many fans feel betrayed.
However, you can also not blame Allen. You can say he wasn't loyal to the Celtics, but in a certain light, neither were they to him. Whether it was signing Terry or benching Ray for Bradley last season, you can't blame the guy for not wanting to return if he wasn't feeling the love being reciprocated.
Honestly, how long can you stay mad at Allen? Agree with his decision or not, Allen, like Nash, is one of the true class acts of the league and a stand-up individual. Though his decision might be tough to swallow, it's best to do so quickly. Let go, wish him well with his new team and move on. After all, as a fan, your duty is to your team and the players still there -- not to those who have 'joined the dark side' per say after being wooed by "Darth" [Pat] Riley.