As Heat fans and NBA enthusiasts alike are well aware, Ray Allen has decided to opt in to his $3.2 million dollar contract and re-join the Miami Heat for another title defense in the 2013-2014 NBA season. While Ray Allen's legacy is certainly not in question, proven by his numerous accolades (two championships, 10 all-star appearances, the record for the most made 3 pointers ever by an NBA athlete) as he approaches 38 years of age many may wonder, how much impact Allen can continue to have on an NBA team. The answer is simple. Allen is as deadly as ever, as demonstrated by his shot in the final seconds of Game 6 a month ago. Nevertheless, there are various reasons why he still is and why he can continue to be even if he considers playing beyond 40 years of age.
Walter Ray Allen's basketball career can be summarized by the final scene of Spike Lee's cult classic, "He Got Game" in which Jesus Shuttlesworth shoots on an empty basketball court, counting down:
"5,4,3,2,1 *swish and the crowd goes wild!"
After the events of the NBA Finals' Game 6 that scene is a powerful premonition of what would occur numerous times in the span of his 17-year professional basketball career. While, today we see Allen as a legend, there was a time when he was supposed to be "obsolete". A time in which men doubted Ray, and used words that would provide fuel to his fire for years to come. As revealed in an interview with Slam Magazine, Ray Allen reflected on his experience with the famed basketball magazine (talking about the 1996 draft class issue) he explained:
"I've had one gripe my whole career about SLAM and I still keep it ‘til this day. It's probably one of my sole motivators on a daily basis and I don't know if I ever told anybody this. When that article came out with all of us on the cover [of SLAM 15], it had the (predicted) accolades on the inside. It said most likely to win MVP, most likely to do this. One of them said most likely to fade into obscurity.....and it was me. I was 21 and I knew what obscurity meant, but I had to look it up because I needed to make sure. It pissed me off because I felt I was going to leave my mark on this league. Whoever wrote that pissed me off and it gave me motivation my whole career. I was like I want to be somebody who I'm going to leave my lasting mark on this league. As much as it pissed me off, it was a good thing because it always made me remember that there were people who thought I wasn't going to be good. So that was motivation.
Ray Allen certainly silenced the critics, and it seems this drive and motivation hasn't yet halted. At 37 years old, Ray averaged in 25 minutes of play, 10.9 points per game, 2.2 defensive rebounds, as well as 1.7 assists. While those numbers aren't spectacular, one needs to make note that Ray Allen wasn't a starter this year. His minutes were limited, and he was coming off surgery on his foot for bone spurs when the season debuted. Part of the reason Ray Allen remains so productive on the basketball court is due to his phenomenal conditioning, and repetitions. If you take a look at Ray at any point during his NBA career you'd be foolish not to agree he could cover ESPN's body issue anytime. The man is in incredible shape, and continues to emphasize his healthy lifestyle at this stage in his career partly due to his child who has been diagnosed with Type 1-Diabetes. Nevertheless, it's given life to an aging player's prolific career.
Allen's pre-game routine remains unaltered from the beginning of his reign as three-point master until now. He likes it the way it is, and from the proficient results it's gained it warrants no change ever. When Allen shoots the ball his form is nearly flawless, and I believe many can agree that, among other basketball skills is why there is a large amount of respect for him in the league. He may be older now, but Ray Allen can still get the job done. "He Got Game" never needed a sequel as we've been chronicling Jesus Shuttlesworth's career ever since that one-on-one game versus his father.
By Brandon DiPerno