The Hartford Courant
Displayed with permission from MCT Information Services
EAST GRANBY, Conn. — Ray Allen could play one more year in the NBA. He is wanted, and he knows it.
Or he could retire with no regrets, all business finished. All the years of solid play and diligent work at conditioning have put him, at 39, in this rare position — to script his own ending, and take his time doing it.
“I’m not in any rush [to make a decision],” Allen said during a break in the Citi Ray Allen Basketball ProCamp at East Granby High on Saturday morning. “I’ve played 18 years, and the way I look at my career, I’m content with everything that I’ve done. I just want to take this summer and see how it goes.”
Allen, an All-American who scored 1,922 points at UConn, is back in Connecticut doing his usual summer round of good works, including hosting this camp for 200 boys and girls in grades 1 through 12. Last week, his Ray of Hope Foundation provided a new computer lab for Ponus Ridge Middle School in Norwalk, something he has done for other schools across the state. On Monday, he will host his annual golf tournament, benefiting his foundation, at the TPC in Cromwell.
And next Friday he will appear in the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Classic at Mohegan Sun, which raises money for cardiac research at UConn.
Meanwhile, as the memory of the Miami Heat’s loss to the Spurs in the NBA Finals fades, Allen, who averaged 26 minutes and 9.6 points off the bench and made 37.5 percent of his three-point shots last season, is taking calls from LeBron James and others hoping to lure him to Cleveland, where he would rejoin James.
“To continue playing, really, the only argument is I can because I’m in great shape,” Allen said. “But just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. Many people over these last couple of weeks have lobbied for me to continue to play. … My argument for not playing is, I have done a significant amount in my career and I appreciate everything that has come my way and as I’ve gotten older, I’m 39, there are so many things in life I want to be able to do to affect change — like being around kids full time, which I enjoy.
“So at this point I just feel so good about where I am.”
Allen has played for the Bucks, SuperSonics, Celtics and Heat during his long career, and he holds the NBA records for three-pointers made in both the regular season (2,973) and postseason (385), hitting 40 percent across the board. He played on championship teams with Boston in 2008 and Miami in 2013, when he made a crucial three-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It’s a Hall of Fame body of work, whether Allen takes another three or not.
“I don’t want to go into a situation where I don’t understand the coaching, don’t understand the direction of the team,” Allen said. “My family is very important in making the decision. Right now, there is nothing that I need to do. If I ultimately decide this will be it for me, I’m content with that.”
Allen’s former teammate, Kevin Ollie, is also in a good place, having coached UConn to the national championship in his second year at the helm and attracting offers to coach in the NBA. Ollie chose to stay in Storrs with a new five-year, $16 million contract.
“I knew he would be great, that he was going to be successful there,” Allen said. “It’s not even that he won a championship — we all revel in it, we’re all so proud of him and he’s brought bragging rights to the state — but more important, I’m proud of what he’s done for those young men. Everybody has alway respected him. When he became an assistant at UConn [in 2010], he started to get into the minds of the players. He got into their minds and started forcing them to be better.”
Ollie also had a long NBA career, and if he one day he decides to make the jump, Allen thinks he has what it takes to get into the minds of professionals, too.
“Kevin would make it work because he is adaptable,” Allen said. “He understands the nature of who the players are. He’s not one of these guys that’s a hard-liner, one way and this is how it’s going to be. He’s trying to find out what his guys want and what they need. So far, that’s what has made him successful.”
Allen pushes the youngsters with whom he works to put their electronics away, get off the couch, out of the house and get moving. He believes he has already begun his post-playing career as a “coach.”
“I am a coach,” he said. “I don’t have to have a title. I have five children that need guidance. One of them [Tierra] is 21, she goes to Quinnipiac University, and I feel I am always in her ear trying to guide her as she grows. Every camp I do, I’m always trying to figure out how I can help kids get better, so holding the actual title of coach, that doesn’t matter to me. In life, I’m a coach. I think we all are.”