Ray Allen cemented his place near the top of NBA postseason lore with his shot in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
How did he celebrate what he now calls the defining moment in his career, not to mention his second NBA championship? By changing his diet and losing weight, of course.
A few days after the Finals, Allen began the “paleo” diet, removing all carbohydrates and sugars from his diet. Before he even began his famously rigorous offseason training, Allen had dropped 10 pounds.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t exaggerating at the beginning of training camp when he said Allen reinvented himself in the offseason. At 38 years old and with 17 years in the league, Allen worked himself down to 197 pounds, which is the lightest he has been since his days starring at the University of Connecticut.
“The first three or four days, it was a task because I was getting headaches, my body felt like achy, but I just started living on salads and fruit and protein and salmon and chicken and I didn’t have soda, any Gatorade,” Allen said. “I had unsweetened iced tea and water and that’s it.”
The result has been on display this week in a ballroom at a convention center at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. Spoelstra noted Thursday how fast Allen has been zipping through camp. Many of the Heat’s players dropped weight this offseason, but Allen took the suggestion made by Pat Riley to the extreme.
Allen said Thursday that this training camp is “night and day for me just knowing the routine.
“We’re an up-tempo team, and I’m used to that running. Last year it was tough for me because we hadn’t ran as much in training camp the last couple years, so coming back into it and not having to think about the concepts. I can just get into them right away.”
Of course, Allen’s learning curve has been added by his meticulous nature.
“He’s the most disciplined guy I’ve ever played with,” said Shane Battier, who also reported to training camp in great shape. “Some would say he’s borderline psychotic when it comes to his regimen.”
Said Allen: “Obviously, you want to continue to build championship habits, but we don’t win this year because we won last year. You win this year because you start building habits and you build championship habits. You come together as a team and find ways to improve on all your weaknesses.”
Looking back on Game 6 of the Finals, Allen said it’s his disciplined nature that manifested itself in the three-pointer to tie the Spurs in regulation and send the game into overtime.
“I totally don’t mind if people define me by that one shot because it’s a winning shot, it put us in a situation where all of us are now celebrating because of it. … That is almost the single-most shot that I can describe my whole life around.
“I was really waiting for someone throughout this summer to tell me that was a lucky shot, because anybody who knows me and has been around me knows that it wasn’t luck. Everybody around me says, ‘Yep, that’s what he does.’ ”
Allen enjoyed reliving the shot this summer with friends. Swimmer Michael Phelps joked with Allen that the shot cost him some ESPY Awards.
“We were on a plane together,” Allen said. “[Phelps] said if you didn’t make that shot, then I would have swept the ESPYs.”
Jamie Foxx was so inspired by Allen’s shot that he scripted a commercial based on the moment.
“He just ranted and raved about it,” Allen said. “He wanted to shoot a commercial because he thinks that moment should be galvanized.”
For an encore, Allen, already one of the best-conditioned players in the league, is now in even better shape. He said he plans to snack on pecans, cashews and plantain chips during flights and hopes it “rubs off on other guys, because the recovery for me now is so much more important.
“I like to be able to recover quicker. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to manage my body from an eating standpoint. I’ve always done it, but I’ve taken it to the next level.”
The Heat’s players are already tired of answering questions about how to prevent complacency. Said Battier: “It’s makes you laugh that everyone seems concerned about complacency. There was no complacency out there [Thursday]. Guys were on the floor. Guys were getting elbows. Guys were going really hard, and that’s why this group is special, because we love to compete and play against each other.”