While Kevin Durant‘s decision this past summer to sign with the Golden State Warriors sent shock waves around the league, it wasn’t the first time a major player left his team in free agency. Perhaps comparable to Durant leaving the Thunder is LeBron James‘ decision to leave the Cavaliers for the Heat to form a superteam with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But on a less grand scale,
But on a less grand scale, Ray Allen leaving the championship contending Celtics in 2012 to join forces with James and the Heat, is quite comparable to Durant’s free agent choice. Like Durant, Allen left the Celtics to play for a team rival in the Heat and in doing so, angered his former teammates and fan base.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for Allen’s departure from Boston involved Rajon Rondo as the two didn’t see eye-to-eye. Allen didn’t like Rondo’s headstrong nature on the court and the two butted heads from time to time. And in an effort to get away from Rondo while also wanting to join a championship contending team, Allen signed with the Heat. His defection shocked the Celtics as they couldn’t believe he would sign with their rivals in the East. But his relationship with Rondo was that far gone and Allen wanted out.
Amazingly, the relationship between Rondo and Allen till this day is still irreparable. Even Allen’s relationship with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is still strained. And unsurprisingly, because of his decision to join the Heat, Allen was not invited to a 2008 Celtics vacation that Rondo is putting together with his former teammates.
“I asked a couple of the guys. I got a no, a no head shake,” said Rondo to The Undefeated when asked why Allen wasn’t invited.
“It will be a long story about that, but it is what it is,” Rondo, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, told The Undefeated. “I don’t know a good analogy to put this in. It just wasn’t the greatest separation. It wasn’t the greatest thing that could’ve happened to us as a team, a bond. We were at war with those guys [Miami]. To go with the enemy, that’s unheard-of in sports. Well, it’s not so unheard of. It’s damn near common now.
“The mindset we had. The guys on our team. You wouldn’t do anything like that. It makes you question that series in the Finals … Who were you for? You didn’t bleed green. People think we had a messed-up relationship. It’s not the greatest. But it’s not just me. I called and reached out to a couple of other vets and asked them what they wanted to do with the situation. They told me to stick with what we got [without Allen].”
One former Celtics player from the 2008 NBA championship team said of Allen’s exclusion from the party: “I mean, Ray left. He left to the enemy.”
It has been just about five years since Allen left the Celtics to join the Heat but apparently, the sting of his departure still affects Rondo and some of his former Boston teammates. And because of that, Allen was not invited to the vacation with his former teammates.
Some grudges apparently last forever.