In the end, what mattered had nothing to do with nostalgia. Allen performed as well as a sixth-man sub for Miami as he had as a starter for Boston.
James could relate.
“It’s a relief for him to get this over with,” James said. “My first encounter with my old team was in Cleveland. It will be different when he returns to Boston.”
THE LOYALTY QUESTION
The breakup of Boston’s Big 3 contrasts with the all-for-one, one-for-all unity of the Heat’s Big 3. During the Heat’s ring ceremony, Wade, once king of the Heat, was introduced as the penultimate player, leaving the loudest cheers for James, the new king of the basketball universe.
Loyalty is a cornerstone of the Heat franchise. Former interns, a video coordinator have risen to big jobs. But it’s tough for athletes to abide by loyalty when they know they are commodities.
The ceremony brought back memories for Allen, who won his ring in 2008, as part of the Celtics’ grand alliance. They were the originals; the Heat, copycats.
Allen expected to win another couple of trophies with Garnett and Pierce, but they kept falling short. He played on a gimpy ankle throughout the playoffs, recording career lows in scoring and accuracy. Rondo the mad genius went wild – sometimes too wild – but his imaginative assists made Allen the forgotten man. Well before then, Rondo had supplanted Allen in Boston’s Big 3.
Allen felt marginalized, unappreciated, and accepted less money to come to Miami. Juvenile, you might say, that he could not ice his bruised ego and get over it. Doc Rivers and Allen’s ex-teammates are still miffed about what they perceive as his betrayal.
But Allen played it smart. Rather than stick around Boston and risk being used as trade bait, he landed a role with the league’s No. 1 contender. He believes he’s got something left for his 17th pro season. His first game against his old team provided proof. Rejection can be a powerful motivator.