After two seasons out of the game and considering a comeback, the incomparable Ray Allen officially announced his retirement today via a touching open letter to his 13-year-old self in The Players’ Tribune.
A 10-time NBA All-Star and a two-time NBA Champion, Allen’s legacy to the game is as the most prolific three-point shooter basketball has ever seen, and as one of the deadliest shooters of all time.
Allen was born in Merced, California, before attending Hillcrest High School in Dalzell, South Carolina. The University of Connecticut’s star guard from 1993-96, he picked up a plethora of individual awards – including the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1995) and the Big East Player of the Year (1996) – and was later named honorary captain of the Huskies’ All-Century Basketball Team in 2001.
He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves at No.5 in the 1996 draft – behind the likes of Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, and ahead of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash – but was immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
After a long period in the doldrums, the Bucks rallied in the late-1990s with Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell at the forefront, ending an eight-season playoffs drought in 1998-99 and culminating in an Eastern Conference finals appearances two years later.
An acclaimed co-starring role with Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s 1998 film He Got Game and a gold medal as part of USA’s team at the Sydney Olympics provided more glowing highlights during Allen’s Bucks tenure.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 1, 2016
A mid-season trade to the Supersonics, a rugged run with injury and a public beef with Bryant – who famously said, “Don’t even put me and that dude in the same breath” – followed, but Allen would enjoy a renaissance in Seattle.
Selected in the All-NBA Second Team for the only time in his career in 2005, Allen broke Dennis Scott’s record for most three-pointers made in a season with 269. Golden State’s ‘Splash Brothers’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are the only player to hit more threes in a season since.
Allen averaged a career-high 26.4 points per game in the 2006-07 regular season, before linking with the Boston Celtics and entering a period that garnered the greatest successes of his career.
The expert marksman played a key role in the Celtics’ Championship triumph in his first year in Boston, particularly in the NBA Finals defeat of Kobe’s Lakers. He scored the game-clinching lay-up in the Celtics’ record-breaking Game 4 comeback, and landed a Finals record seven three-pointers in the series-ending Game 6 drubbing.
Allen bettered that mark with eight threes against the Lakers in the 2010 Finals, but the Celtics went down in seven games. The following February, Allen overtook Reggie Miller as the all-time NBA three-point scoring leader.
Another change of team brought another immediate Championship, featuring prominently in the Miami Heat’s 2013 Finals win over the San Antonio Spurs – including arguably the pinnacle play of his career.
The Spurs had one hand on the Larry O’Brien Trophy when Allen sent the series-saving Game 6 into overtime with a phenomenal back-pedalling three with 5.2 seconds left.
The Heat went on to win Game 7, with Allen’s three-pointer in the previous encounter the pivotal moment of their back-from-the-dead effort against the shattered Spurs.
Allen had one last piece of playoffs magic in 2014 during what would ultimately be his farewell season, hitting four fourth-quarter threes in a Game 3 Eastern Conference Finals win over the Pacers, though the Heat would fall to the Spurs in a Finals rematch.
Despite his array of gifts, it’s impossible to escape Allen’s shooting prowess when summarising his 18-season career. He extended the NBA’s record for career threes to 2,973 – more than 400 clear of Miller – while his career percentage of .400 is second only to Kyle Korver’s .430 among the top 12 most prolific three-point shooters ever.
He currently sits 22nd on the list of the NBA’s all-time scorers with 24,505 points from an even 1300 games.
But he will also be remembered as one of the modern era’s good guys, winning the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2003, while also becoming a cherished part of the folklore of the Bucks, Supersonics, Celtics and Heat.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) November 1, 2016
RAY ALLEN CAREER OVERVIEW
Milwaukee Bucks (1996-2003)
Seattle Supersonics (2003-2007)
Boston Celtics (2007-12)
Miami Heat (2012-14)
1300 games; 24,505 points; 18.9 PPG; 2,973 three-pointers; .452 field goal pct; .400 three-point pct.
2 x NBA Champion (2008, 2013)
10 x NBA All-Star (2000-02, 2004-09, 2011)
1 x All-NBA Second Team (2005)
1 x All-NBA Third Team (2001)