x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ray Allen is on a new team but has the same old desires

Ray Allen will watch his new teammates, the Miami Heat, receive their championship rings, then go out and help them start on the patch to another one against his old teammates, the Boston Celtics.

Miami Heat's Ray Allen moves against New Orleans Hornets' Al-Farouq Aminu in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL) *** Local Caption *** HEA109_NBA-_1027_11.JPG
Miami Heat's Ray Allen moves against New Orleans Hornets' Al-Farouq Aminu in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL) *** Local Caption *** HEA109_NBA-_1027_11.JPG

 

MIAMI // Ray Allen faces a number of potentially awkward moments on Tuesday night.

Most of his new Miami Heat teammates will get championship rings; he will not be among them.

When the franchise's second title banner is raised to the rafters, Allen is not sure how he is supposed to react.

And all that hubbub will occur as the future collides with his past: his former team, the Boston Celtics, will be the opponents awaiting the Heat when their pre-game tribute to the 2012 NBA title ends.

"It's their moment," Allen said.

It is also loaded with irony because Allen was on the team that almost thwarted Miami's title plans.

Allen played for the Celtics last season when they took the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference final.

Then came the summer, when Allen spurned Boston and signed with Miami, changing sides in the rivalry with just a few strokes of a pen.

And deep down, he knew long ago that things would work out this way: Celtics-Heat, opening night, a enthralling match-up to get the season started.

"I've gotten over it now to the point where you just say, you can celebrate their success," Allen said. "More than anything, I'm just focused on once that's over with, we have a game to go out and win."

That is a mantra shared by just about everyone in the Heat locker room. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade said they would have preferred the ring ceremony to have happened last night, so that nothing interferes with the importance of the game on Tuesday night.

Chris Bosh said the celebration could inspire both teams; he remembers how hungry his team were for last season's opener when Dallas raised the title banner they won at Miami's expense, then were overwhelmed by the Heat.

"You know they're going to be amped-up," the Heat forward Shane Battier said. "We're going to get their best shot. We know that going in."

Seeing their friend-turned-foe will only add to that. Allen changing addresses adds substantially more spice to a rivalry that did not really need any extra oomph.

James and Paul Pierce have been waging duels for nearly a decade now.

The Heat and Celtics have met in the play-offs in each of the past three years, Miami winning the past two since James and Bosh came to join Wade.

It is even more heated now, with Allen wearing red and black instead of green and white. Kevin Garnett said early in training camp that he does not have Allen's number in his phone anymore. There has been a lingering sense that at least part of Allen's decision to sign with Miami was out of some sort of dissatisfaction with his former teammate Rajon Rondo.

Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, has said that Miami are Boston's target this season.

In some respects, Allen is eager for tonight to end, if only in that tomorrow morning may bring some normality.

"We can move on," Allen said.

"I think it's two-fold, having a ring ceremony and then playing Boston. It's like both situations, letting go of what happened last year and moving forward. They're repeating, but I'm on the quest for a championship."

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