Ray Allen at Heat introductory press conference: ‘It’s a sad thing for me and my family’ to leave Celtics
|07.11.12 at 1:58 pm ET|
New Heat guard Ray Allen downplayed reports of friction between himself and Rajon Rondo at his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon in Miami. While Allen acknowledged “there’s differences” and noted that he has been in contact with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but not Rondo this offseason, he insisted his move to Miami was not sparked by the Celtics‘ enigmatic point guard.
“I haven’t spoken with him at all,” Allen said when asked about his relationship with Rondo. “I know when I came down here I texted Paul and Kevin. Those are the guys that I talked quite a bit with over the years. We shared a lot of similar philosophies. Those are the guys, when we came into Boston together, a lot was put on our shoulders as to whether or not we were going to win. So, I look back at all our time spent in Boston. We’ve had a lot of disappointments, but we’ve shared a lot of thrills. And a lot of that’s off the court.
“So, it is sad to me, knowing that I’m not going to be with those guys anymore. But I’m looking forward to what we can do here in this organization, being a teammate of LeBron [James], being a teammate of Dwyane [Wade], Chris Bosh I just met, Joel Anthony, those guys are all excited to have me here.”
When asked again about Rondo, Allen said: “I can’t say it affected my decision. I think as teammates we were brothers. I’m around them more than I’m around my own family. There’s differences. We all have differences. Paul, he eats Corn Flakes, I might not like Corn Flakes. That’s just part of who we are as individuals. At the end of the day we have to buy into what the coach believes is best for us. As players we have to put our differences aside.”
Allen talked in more detail about the difficulty he had in making the decision and how it affected his former teammates.
“When I was knew I was leaning toward Miami, I actually sent a text out to Kevin, just to let him know,” Allen said. “I just remember this process in ’08 when [James] Posey left us. He left and we just really wanted him back. He went to New Orleans and we didn’t get a chance to try to get Danny to give him a little something extra, or whatever it was. I didn’t want that to be the case with me in this situation.
“So, I texted Kevin, I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I’m leaning this way. I just want you to know,’ without getting into the finite details of the deal. He said, ‘Well, Danny [Ainge] will step up to the plate and do whatever you need him to do.’ I was like, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ That was somewhat of the small discussion that we had.
“I just wanted those guys to know that I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and it was a joy and a pleasure to play with them.”
Allen said his conversation with Ainge and Doc Rivers when he broke the news of his decision was difficult.
“They were disappointed. They were disappointed. They really wanted me to come back,” Allen said. “We won a lot together in five years. ‘¦ They were disappointed. Like I said, it’s a sad thing for me and my family because those are the relationships that we won’t have on a daily basis in our lives. But they’re still friends of mine forever.”
Allen held up a No. 34 Heat jersey at the press conference, which he attended along with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley, who introduced Allen as “one of the most professional professionals this league has ever seen.”
When asked about playing behind Wade and contributing off the bench, Allen joked: “You mean I’m not starting? I wish they would have told me that last week.”
Turning serious, the 10-time All-Star said: “Going into this process, I never said whether I wanted to start or come off the bench. That wasn’t really an issue. The way that I prepare for the game, the way that I try to figure out what’s best for this team, whatever’s going to be best for me is going to figure itself out. This team won a championship without me, I’m not going to come in and expect for coach to cater to who I am or what I do. I’ve got to make that work on the floor with my new teammates.
“I’ve always said, whether you start or come off the bench, the best compliment is who you finish the game up with. ‘¦ For me, I’ve always been a guy that I go with what the coach needs or what the coach wants — what the team needs and what the coach wants. I’m not coming trying to come here and win on my terms. I’m trying to win on what coach Spoelstra and Pat Riley need for this team to help win another championship.”
Spoelstra insisted Allen will have “a big role” on the Heat.
“Obviously, we keep on talking about the versatility, and we want to get to a point where we are positionless, and we have basketball players out there. Ray absolutely fits that,” Spoelstra said. “He can play multiple positions. But his skill set, his professionalism as a champion, he fits very well with who we already have here, and he’s a great complement to the champions we have here.
“There are only a handful of players in this league that absolutely strike fear into their opponent, and Ray is one of those players. ‘¦ There’s no question, we brought him here to be a big part of what we do.”
Allen has been criticized in Boston for deciding to join the Celtics’ Eastern Conference rival, and he said he understands where those fans are coming from.
“I think that there’s a sense of sadness and hurt that the people feel,” he said. “And we feel that, too, as a family. We feel the loss, the sense of loss that we’re going to have not being in that community. And that’s understandable. But we’re still part of that community. We’re still a part of New England. We still live in Connecticut. Our home is still in Boston. That’s not going to change how we feel about the people there.”
As for how the criticism affects him personally, Allen said: “It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me. I know who I am. I know what my everyday goals or tasks are, and that’s to raise my kids to be respectable people in this world and to make this team better.”
Following are more highlights from the press conference.
On the Celtics’ Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals: “I remember walking out of the locker room and being very disappointed. I was very emotional. I don’t get too emotional after games, after losses. I just remember crying in the locker room and feeling that sense of letdown. We really wanted to win. Being on such a high a few days earlier when we had won here and now losing.
“You move into a situation where you come into the summer and you don’t know what potentially can happen. You just take the process a step at a time and try to figure out what’s best for you and your family, and here I sit.”
On his discussions with Riley and Spoelstra: “I’ve seen Pat Riley in several situations just in passing. We’ve shared small conversation. I had an opportunity to sit down and really discuss basketball philosophy with him. He’s got a lot of great stories. I had a lot of questions for him. I’ve followed him for as long as I’ve followed basketball. Same thing with coach Spoelstra. We talked about every basketball philosophy that we shared, to the point where he said, ‘Well, I don’t know if you’re coming but I’ll just tell you this anyway.’ ‘¦
“He and I, we share very similar ideals, offensively, defensively. Learning, understand each other, him asking me what I liked, kind of how I saw their team and how he saw me as a player and as a teammate. I agreed with a lot of things, the direction the team was going in. I was excited. I went back and talked about it with my family. We got home and we had to decide what was best for us.”
On if he signed with Miami because he believes the Heat have a better chance to win a title: “It’s hard to just come into a season and say you think a team has a better chance or a team is a guaranteed lock to win a championship. The work still has to be put in. Boston had a great chance, too, they made some great signings, or commitments, this past week. I looked at the situation and thought about what would be best for my kids, my wife, me personally being able to go out there and help this team with the talent that I know that I have.”
On when he made his final decision: “I think it was maybe July 6, if i have my dates correctly. There was a moment where I just had to decide, thinking about going through the course of the season. With me going forward offensively how I was going to be able to contribute. I just felt as though I contributed a great deal to the organization in Boston, and they’ve been so good to me and my family, that we got to the position now where I was thinking about, ‘Is Miami going to be a good fit for me?’
“There was a moment — I talked to the people that are around me, that have watched me, that have followed me forever. They just said, ‘Change is not bad, you have to consider this. You have to think about whether or not this organization is going to be beneficial to you being able to play basketball the way we know you play basketball, and where you’re capable of helping the team.’ I think it was just that moment going forward where we said, ‘Hey, this is going to be a great opportunity for me.’ ”
On if the Celtics could have done anything different to keep him: “It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say.”
On leaving Boston: “Even in the last week, you’re saying goodbye to a lot of people you’ve grown to know and love in our community, people in the organization. Everything changes. You are sad about that. But it doesn’t keep those people from still being close to our heart or still being friends. We’ll still be friends with everybody who have been in our lives.
“One memory I will always have is Game 6, where we’re getting beat by 20 and the people in Boston are still standing and chanting, ‘Let’s go Celtics.’ Because this thing isn’t over with yet. I’ll always remember that from those fans.”