MIAMI -- Ray Allen is firmly a member of the Miami Heat now, but Allen believes he’ll feel a kinship with his ex-Boston Celtics teammates Tuesday when the Heat receive their championship rings before the season opener.
“I’m excited for these guys having spent time with them for last 2-3 months,” Allen said Monday. “But at the same time, they beat me and put us out. I understand the emotions Boston will feel watching the ceremony.”
Despite a breakup that’s been rife with mudslinging, Allen doesn’t totally seem to have his “us’s” and “they’s” straight in the Heat-Celtics rivalry, which most recently includes the Heat’s series victory in last spring's Eastern Conference finals. Allen is very much at the center of the rivalry now after signing with the Heat last summer, after the Celtics offered double what the Heat did.
Once the Heat get their rings and raise their banner Tuesday -- the Celtics are expected to stay in the locker room, as is routine in such situations -- much attention will be focused on Allen going against his former teammates.
“These guys are my friends,” Allen said. “People think I have some sort of animosity or bad blood against them; I don’t. I’ve said it time and time again, we've shared the most special thing in sports and that’s going all the way to the top. That’s always going to be No. 1, closest to my heart. So when I see Paul [Pierce], I’m not going to be angry at him or anyone else. I’m happy to see these guys.”
The Celtics and Allen have lobbed cross words via the media in the preseason. Kevin Garnett said he lost Allen’s phone number, Doc Rivers said ego played a role in Allen’s departure, Rajon Rondo has taken to not using Allen’s name and just calling him "No. 20." Meanwhile, Allen has dragged up stories from as far back as 2009 to show his angst while on the team.
Tired of all the buildup, the Celtics players didn't even want to talk about it anymore on Monday.
“We’re not going to make this into a Ray Allen versus Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Rondo thing,” Pierce said. “Right now my focus is playing against the Miami Heat. Everything has already happened. He’s here, he’s happy to be here, you wish him the best for his family.”
“I don’t have a take on [Allen],” Garnett said. “I’m here to the play the game and get the hell up out of here, point blank.”
Allen said he had not yet considered plans to greet former teammates and coaches prior to Tuesday’s game. But he does expect some cold interactions.
“It’s nothing personal, you want to beat the other team,” Allen said. “I think with anybody not on the Celtic team, it’s always frosty. You don’t like the opponent.”