(Photo Credit: www.usatoday.com)
At 38 years old, Ray Allen is the second oldest player in the NBA. He is the oldest player on the Miami Heat, closer in age to head coach Erik Spoelstra than to his teammates. And yet, the fire within him is nowhere near being put out.
Along with LeBron James, Allen helped Miami rally past the Indiana Pacers and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night. During the fourth quarter, a time that Allen himself calls “his playground,” he drained four quick three-pointers, after sitting scoreless for the first 36 minutes.
“This is my favorite time of year,” Allen said after Game 3’s victory. “This is when it’s the most fun.”
Allen has been in the league since 1996 when he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the fifth overall pick. Since then, he has played for four teams, made the All-Star team 10 times and won two championships. Many know him as “Jesus Shuttlesworth” from the film “He Got Game.”
When he decided to end his time in Boston with the Boston Celtics, many were up in arms. This only progressed when he announced he was signing with the Heat in 2012, rejecting a two-year, $12 million offer for a mid-level exception. Celtics fans felt betrayed, called him a sellout and vowed to never watch him play again.
For the most part, Miami fans were grateful to have such a legendary talent join an already stacked squad. However, some questioned whether or not the veteran still had any fuel left in his tank, wondering if it was not instead a better idea to retire. I am guessing that right now, those people no longer have any doubts regarding Allen.
Being the oldest player on a team comes with jokes like “so, you played with Moses Malone?” but there is also something to be said for becoming a role model. At the end of the day, his teammates respect him; they respect his experience, his approach and his skill set.
“…they all respect me and ask me questions…if there is anything that needs to be resolved they say, ‘Committee, what’s your take on this?'”
The Heat are lucky to have Allen, and Allen is lucky to have them. To be playing professional basketball at the age of 38 is impressive, but to do so in such an effective manner is astounding. Allen truly appears to be ageless.
There is no question in my mind that Allen will continue to be a factor in Miami’s quest to three-peat, but the debate now begins: what is next for him?
“I love how my body feels,” Allen stated this past February.
And he is not the only one conscious of his physique.
“Ray takes impeccable care of his body,” commented Shane Battier, who is retiring after this postseason. “I don’t.”
If Allen keeps being as meticulous with his conditioning and training as he has been up until this point, and still loves the game as much as he did the day he got drafted, it seems as though he could easily have a few more years left in him.
Besides just raw ability, Allen is the type of player who even to this day, continuously learns about the game. He observes what his team needs out of his minutes, vocalizes it, and practices what he preaches. He shoots lights out from beyond the arc, runs his defender into the ground, spaces the floor accordingly and has unwavering faith in his teammates.
I hope to see Allen on the court next year, particularly the hardwood in the AmericanAirlines Arena. His time in Boston was one to remember, but it appears as though a rebirth is about to take place.