After The Game That Must Not Be Named, Ray Allen didn’t even want to go out in public.
“Well, I didn’t cut my hair for a long time,” he told WEEI in a Friday morning interview. “I didn’t want to really do anything; I didn’t really go out in public a whole lot. Just being around anybody was just too taxing.”
When he could finally bring himself to face life, Allen was pleasantly surprised. ”I’ve never had so many more people come up to me now, since we lost, come up to me and say congratulations, and they were so happy, and thank us for what we’ve done for them, and they watched and enjoyed what we did,” he said. “When we won, it didn’t seem like anybody came up to me at all, but it just was everywhere I went, people said something. The most unassuming people you would ever expect watched the games, and, ‘You guys were so awesome, so great.’
“I always told people, I said this was so overwhelming so many times because there would be a 75-year-old lady coming up to me and saying, ‘You guys were great. I watched you guys, I really enjoyed it. You guys kept my heart going.’ But it was great, and you know, it was one of those things you’re glad that you could be a part of.”
THIS is why I’m proud to be a Celtics fan. The C’s lost one of the most heart-breaking games in NBA history, collapsing down the stretch after a 13-point lead, against their bitter rivals, in Game 7 of the Finals (hold on, slamming my head against my computer table, repeatedly), but the fans were just happy to be a part of something special. If there had been one person to blame for that loss, it would have been Ray Allen, for his brick nightmare that never ended. Yet we Celtics fans know better.
There was nobody to blame for that loss. The Celtics, as the Celtics do, did everything in their power to win that game. They came up short, but the fact they even made it to Game 7 was miraculous. They were a fourth seed in the East, for Christ’s sake! They’d finished the final 54 regular-season games at 27-27. They were in complete shambles, unable to beat teams they should have sleep-walked over. When the playoffs came the Celtics had no chance against Cleveland and no shot against Orlando, but the C’s steamrolled both opponents. As Rudy Tomjanovich once said, don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.
Even last year, when they didn’t win the title, when their hearts were broken, when our hearts were too, the Celtics were champions. Their resilience in the face of adversity, their staunch refusal to give in to old age and creaky bodies, demonstrated as much.
That Game 7 loss still hurts. I imagine it always will. But whenever I look back at the Celtics’ 2010 postseason run, I’ll do so with pride.
- Other notes from the interview:
- Ray plans to finish his career as a Celtic.
- Ray on why he’s a “freak”: ”Because you might see me running through Wellesley, you know, on the street, or riding my bike on the street. You might not know who I am, but you might see me running. And, you know, I could ask anybody, whether it’s friends or family, anybody, to run with me, and they won’t want to run with me. Because I’ll run quick and I’ll run hard and I’ll get through it. I’ll get off my bike and hit the street running for the next hour and then when I come back to the house I’ll get on the treadmill and do sprints on the treadmill. And most people may or may not want to do that, but most of the people I know don’t want to do it, and it’s just a constant thirst for me to get better and try and challenge myself every corner I turn.”
- Ray on whether the Celtics are too old: “Being pretty deep, having guys that you can rely on that can carry the team from one night to the next, that’s what is most important.”
- Nobody had to talk Ray into staying in Boston: “At the end of the day, I tell anybody who’s in my corner, I say, ‘You can give me all the input you want, all the suggestions, but at the end of the day, finally, it’s going to be the decision that I think is best for everybody.’ That’s what it ultimately ended up being.”