Ray Allen converted his first NBA 3-pointer as a 21-year-old member of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1996. Fifteen years and 2,560 3-pointers later, he has become the league record-holder.
Allen entered last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers one 3-pointer behind Reggie Miller on the career list. Allen tied the record with 4:14 remaining in the opening quarter, then overtook Miller with 1:45 left in the first.
No. 2,561 happened about the way Allen had choreographed it in his mind. He ran in front of the scorer’s table, just past the Red Auerbach signature on the court, took a pass from Rajon Rondo, and fired away. What happened next, Allen had not planned. In fact, Allen said, “it was such an overwhelming feeling - if I could have hid, I would have.”
But Allen did the opposite, completing a sort of victory lap.
“The last thing I told Reggie when we met in the back over there [before the game],” Allen said. “I told him, `What do I do?’ I never expected anything like this situation. Do I sit there and look stupid or stand up? I don’t know. He said, `I don’t know, either. Do whatever you have to do because it is your moment.’ And, I said, `It is your moment, as well.”’
In fact, Allen went directly to embrace Miller, who was working as a commentator on the TNT broadcast. Then, after a timeout was called, Allen again embraced Miller. Then there were hugs for his mother, who left her courtside seat, and his wife and children, the youngest also receiving a caress of the face and hair mussing.
“Once the timeout came, I knew I had to go over there to Reggie,” Allen said. “My mom was in tears. I had to make sure to thank my family because you don’t do anything without your family. Without them, I can’t be who I am.”
Allen had been anticipating this moment and, rather than shying away from the attention, embraced the countdown. But there will be some negatives associated with that 3-pointer, since it would be among the last of the Celtics’ threes for the night.
The Celtics’ perimeter options started declining as Nate Robinson (knee) went out, then, eventually Von Wafer got in foul trouble. Wafer converted a 3-pointer in the second quarter and Paul Pierce hit one late in the third, giving the Celtics their final lead, 67-66. Allen’s final 3-pointer pulled the Celtics within 80-75 with 8:18 remaining, then Pierce cut the deficit to 3 points. But the Celtics would not get any closer.
“I thought about how is it going to happen?” Allen said. “The second three was like slow motion for me because I had seen the whole thing develop. As I’ve gotten older, I could see the ball coming so slow, like somebody slo-mo’d it on TV.
“I said to myself, this is it. Rondo took the ball up, I knew what he was thinking, we’ve seen it a thousand times. People asked me who I thought would give me the pass and I said it’s a no-brainer, I knew it would be Rondo. So, when I got the ball and let it go, it felt so good behind it. Once the ball was in the air I knew it was good. The one before felt the same but it didn’t go in. It was definitely a magical moment, being in this building, the support I had coming into this moment, this situation.
“I almost felt a little embarrassed there was so much attention. Because this is a team sport. Rarely do you get that much individual support. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life. It was all about the fans in Boston. The stage here was set and everything was ready. Going back a game or so ago, the stage wasn’t there in Charlotte - if I did it, I did it. Tonight I saw all the signs and all the people. There was so much anticipation of this record. I really didn’t understand until that moment how big it was. The game was already big enough.
“So many people were talking about it. I never really had a moment that was mine. I always shared it with other guys. Individual praise for 30 seconds, I never had to do that. This time I had to step out there and do that.”
Miller’s record endured for nearly 13 years. Allen no doubt will continue to distance himself.
“The way I feel now, I couldn’t feel any better,” said the 35-year-old Allen. “I feel rejuvenated. I don’t know why, but my body feels great. I’m well rested. What we do here is extremely tough, last year was a grind. It’s somewhat easy to do because of what I’m surrounded with, an organization and teammates who want to win. At this rate I feel like I could go forever.”Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.