The NBA season begins on Tuesday with an exciting matchup between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Not only is the game a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, but it also marks the first game for Heat guard Ray Allen against his former team.
Allen chose to sign with the Heat in free agency and was called a traitor for choosing to play for Boston’s rival. Allen’s first game with the Heat — and first against Boston — will be a huge story line Tuesday. Naturally, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was asked about Allen leaving Boston during a recent interview. Rivers was completely respectful towards Allen, but he did point out that Ray did not have a good team attitude last season after being replaced by Avery Bradley in the starting lineup.
“You worry about a guy’s feelings, but you worry more about the team. If anything, Ray probably didn’t like that,” Rivers told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Friday. “I’ll always look at myself first with Ray; he wanted to ball more and things like that. I tell my guys every year, if you’re here for me to run stuff for you to look good, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here for me to run stuff to make the team look good, you’re in the right place.”
Rivers also said he knew Allen wasn’t going to re-sign with Boston when the shooting guard stopped returning his and GM Danny Ainge’s phone calls.
“I tried to call him. After the year we talked fine. Then when free agency started Ray didn’t return Danny’s calls or my calls, so I stopped trying,” said Rivers. “If you’ve been here for five years and I have to call you every 10 seconds in free agency, you probably don’t want to be here.”
“Ray was great for us, and I won’t go away from that,” Rivers added. “Why it ended the way it ended, I really don’t know. I think it was ego than anything else. I do think it’s easier for players to go somewhere else and play a backup role than the place they were a star at.”
It’s important to note that Rivers was saying anything about Allen maliciously, but in a matter-of-fact way. His points were all spot on. Rivers expressed disappointment in July about Allen’s decision, and he probably still feels that way, but he’s handling it professionally. The truth is this worked out better for Boston anyhow, and
Allen is probably much happier now, too.