Ray Allen will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest pure shooters to ever play the game of basketball, a meticulous craftsman who spent hours and hours, each and every day throughout his career, honing that perfect stroke.
Allen announced his retirement on Tuesday at the age of 41.
To say goodbye, it’s worth going back and watching the greatest shot Allen ever hit, a series-turning moment in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Trailing by 3 with seconds to go, LeBron James hoisted up a 3-pointer that caromed off the rim, and was somehow gathered up by Chris Bosh. Bosh picked his head up and saw Allen back-pedaling furiously to the 3-point line. He found Allen, who collected the ball, took a step back, rose and fired all in one motion. It fell.
The shot’s degree of difficulty is almost hard to quantify. That shot is impossible. You ask an average NBA player to do that, with that pressure, with that precision, with those defenders closing down, with that narrow a gap to plant his feet, rise and shoot, I think that an average NBA player — again, not a normal person off the street but an NBA players — makes that shot maybe 10% of the time. Probably lower than that.
With Allen, it was never a doubt.
After the series, which the Heat went on to win in seven, we learned that Allen made that shot because he’d actually practiced that shot. He’d practiced it quite a lot. He thought that maybe, one day, he’d need it in his arsenal to back up 15 feet in a second and a half, rise up over a defender and drain a shot with the NBA Finals on the line.
It turned out he did need that shot, at the most important moment of his career.
Allen’s entire basketball career is unquestionable. He’ll be in Springfield one day for his multiple rings, his pure stroke, how he did as much as anyone in expanding the game beyond the 3-point line. But for that moment alone, he will never be forgotten.