Skip to main content

Ray Allen: The Story Of One Of The Greatest Shooters In NBA History

Ray Allen: The Story Of One Of The Greatest Shooters In NBA History

Ray Allen was one of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen. People remember when Allen hit the game-saving three to help LeBron James and the Heat's championship dreams stay alive in 2013. But there's a lot more to Ray Allen than being the player who hit that clutch shot for the Heat.

Ray Allen was born Walter Ray Allen Jr. on July 20, 1975. Allen was born at Castle Air Force Base, which is near Merced, California.

Allen's father, Walter Allen Sr., was in the United States Air Force and because of this, Allen grew up in many places, including England, Oklahoma, and Germany, to name a few. After years of continuous traveling, Allen's family settled down in Dalzell, South Carolina. There, he'd enter high school, where he discovered he didn't fit in.

Often in school, Allen's classmates would tease him because of his accent. Allen developed a British accent during his time growing up in England. Despite this problem to fit in, Allen discovered through sports that he would be accepted, no matter how he spoke.

Allen played a bunch of different sports, and he was good at each one, but after a growth spurt hit him, he decided to stick with basketball. At age 15, Allen made the varsity team at Hillcrest High School. Allen would lead his school to their first state championship game and victory after scoring 25 in a blowout victory.

Ray Allen, College Star

Ray Allen

Ray Allen chose the University of Connecticut, and there he'd become a college star. By his third year, Allen averaged 23.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.7 steals en route to being named the 1995-96 Big East Player of the Year.

Allen also was named first-team All-American while setting the University of Connecticut's all-time season record of three-point makes with 115. After the 1995-96 collegiate season, Allen decided to leave school and enter the NBA Draft, where the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the fifth pick.

The Sharpshooting Rookie

After the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Ray Allen fifth in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves immediately traded him and veteran, Andrew Lang, to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the fourth pick, Stephon Marbury. Allen found himself playing against another rookie who'd go down as one of the best players ever, Allen Iverson, in his first NBA game.

Allen struggled in his first game, but he did show signs of what will become of him as a three-point shooter in the future. The Bucks defeated the 76ers by a score of 111-103, and Allen scored 13 on only 3-10 shooting, but he did go 2-3 from long distance.

The Bucks would struggle during Allen's rookie season, only winning 33 games. Allen played well, though. He averaged 13.4 points per game while being named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

He Got Game Movie Star To NBA Playoff Performer

Ray Allen had an interesting second season in the NBA. He upped his scoring from his rookie season to 19.5, and he helped the Bucks win three more games than the previous season. This wasn't the interesting part of Allen's season, as the Bucks missed the playoffs once again. The interesting part is what Allen was doing besides basketball.

Allen was approached by legendary filmmaker, Spike Lee, during a game against the Knicks, and offered him the role, which Allen accepted. The film, titled He Got Game, was released originally on April 25, 1998, in New York, and then in the rest of the United States on May 1, 1998.

The movie opened to good reviews, earning an 81% on the movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes, and Allen's character, Jesus Shuttlesworth, has gone down in basketball movie lore. In fact, on January 21, 2014, as a member of the Miami Heat, Allen wore the name J. Shuttlesworth on the back of his jersey.

By his third season, Allen led the Bucks to the playoffs, but they were swept 3-0 in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. This playoff matchup showcased the best shooter in the game at the time in Reggie Miller, going up against the future, in Ray Allen.

Despite being swept, Allen averaged 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on 53.2% shooting and 47.4% from three. Compare this to Reggie Miller's stats, Allen came out of the series as the better shooter. Miller averaged 26.3 points on only 35.6% shooting and 27.8% from three.

The very next season, Allen would get another crack at Miller in the playoffs, once again in the first round. This time, the Bucks would give the Pacers a run for their money. The Bucks entered the 2000 NBA playoffs as the eighth seed, and nobody gave them a chance against the number one seeded Pacers.

After four games in the best of five series, the Bucks had won the same number of games as the Pacers; two games. This set up a win-or-go-home Game 5 in Indiana. In this game, Allen's youth was apparent as he struggled, going 6-21 shooting and 2-6 from three. Allen finished with 18, but it wouldn't be enough.

Miller showed Allen that he'd have to wait a little longer before becoming the game's best shooter as he scored 41 on 15-25 shooting and 3-7 from three as the Pacers won the game by a score of 96-95. Allen wouldn't be fazed about the loss, he took this as a learning experience and came back better than ever in the 2000-01 NBA season.

Allen averaged 22.0 points per game, .1 less than the highest points average (22.1 in 1999-00) at that point in his career. He also made, at that time, a career-high in three-pointers with 202. The Bucks finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference with a 52-30 record. This time, they'd play the Orlando Magic in the first round.

Allen would duel star player, Tracy McGrady, to win his first playoff series, 3-1. Next, Allen's Bucks would square off against the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets would push Allen's Bucks to the limit, and Allen's first career Game 7 was upon him. He responded with 28 points on 10-18 shooting. The Bucks won Game 7 over the Hornets, 104-95, and they would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ray Allen would face off against the player he faced in his first career NBA game, Allen Iverson. This was a battle of the top two teams in the East, and despite Iverson being named the MVP of that season, Allen was looking to play like the MVP in the series.

After the Bucks lost Game 1 in the series, Allen bounced back with an incredible Game 2 performance on the road. He scored 38 on 15-24 shooting and 7-11 from three. The Bucks would win Game 3 by a score of 80-74, and the big story in this game was Iverson missing because of an injured hip.

Iverson would return in Game 4 and the series would go the distance, to Game 7, again for the Bucks. This time, though, the Bucks would wind up on the losing end of the Game 7 showdown, as the 76ers won 108-91. Allen had a good game, scoring 26 on 8-18 shooting and 4-7 from three, but it couldn't match Iverson's 44 points.

The Bucks had their greatest season with Allen as a member in 2000-01, and it wouldn't get any better for Allen, as the Bucks would miss the playoffs the following season with a 41-41 record. After being traded halfway through the 2002-03 season to the Seattle Supersonics, Allen saw moderate success. He averaged a career-high 26.4 during the 2006-07 season.

The Supersonics only made the playoffs once with Allen, and that was in the 2004-05 season. Allen was having a good career, but things would change from good to great during the off-season before the 2007-08 season.

The Boston Big Three

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

The NBA world was shaken upside down on June 28, 2007, when Ray Allen was traded to the Boston Celtics. After receiving Allen, the Celtics went out and traded for Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, birthing the era of big three basketball in Boston.

The hype was real as the Celtics were the early favorites to win the championship in the offseason, and they didn't disappoint during the regular season. The Celtics ran away with the best record in the NBA, with an incredible 66-16 record.

Allen's productivity dropped compared to his recent years, averaging 17.4 points on about eight fewer shot attempts per game than during the 2006-07 season. This didn't matter to Allen, as the ultimate goal was to win the championship, and this would be his best chance.

The Celtics would get a scare immediately in the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. Many people predicted a sweep, but the series would go to seven, with the home team winning every game in the series. Will the home team win in Game 7?

Yes, the Celtics won Game 7, and it wasn't even close. The score ended up being 99-65. With the Hawks out of the way, Allen's Celtics would prepare to play a young king, in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The series with the Cavaliers would be the same as the Hawks series. The series went to a Game 7, with the home teams winning every game in the series.

Allen struggled in Game 7, only scoring 4 points on 1-6 shooting. Luckily, for the Celtics, Paul Pierce outdueled LeBron James, scoring 41 to James' 45. The Celtics were on to their first Eastern Conference Finals since the 2001-02 season, where they lost to the New Jersey Nets.

This time around, against the Detroit Pistons, the Celtics wouldn't have much of a problem as they won the series 4-2, behind Allen's 17.5 points per game. The Boston Celtics were off to the NBA Finals, their first since the 1986-87 season, and it was fitting that the Los Angeles Lakers would be their opponent.

The Celtics and Lakers NBA Finals reunion proved to not disappoint, as there was drama right away in Game 1. This came from Paul Pierce, who was wheeled away in a wheelchair, just to return to help win the game. Kobe Bryant added some spectacular performances that only he seemed to be able to do, but in the end, it was Ray Allen who would spark the run that would land the Celtics their first title in 23 years.

It was Game 6 and the series shifted back to Boston after the previous three games were played in Los Angeles. The Celtics held a 3-2 series lead, but after blowing a chance to end the series in Game 5, where Pierce appeared to do everything, the Celtics knew they needed some help.

The help would come from Allen, as he hit a then-record seven three-pointers and scored 26 points to lead the Celtics (tied with Kevin Garnett) in the biggest blowout, clinching victory in NBA Finals history. The Celtics won the game 131-92 and Ray Allen was finally an NBA champion, averaging 20.3 points (second on the team) on 50.7% shooting and 52.4% from three.

An injury to Kevin Garnett the following season derailed their chemistry, and the Celtics lost in the Conference Semifinals to the Orlando Magic. The Boston Celtics found themselves back in the NBA Finals during the 2009-10 season. Once again, they'd play the Lakers.

After losing Game 1, Allen led the Celtics back in Game 2 setting a then-record for most three-pointers made in an NBA Finals game on 8–11 shooting. Allen finished Game 2 as the leading scorer with 32.

Allen's incredible three-point shooting performance in Game 2 made him the first player in NBA history to have two separate games of making at least seven three-pointers in an NBA Finals game. The Celtics would go on to lose a heartbreaker in Game 7, ending their chance at a second title.

On February 10, 2011, Allen broke Reggie Miller's three-point record of 2,560, becoming the all-time leader in three-pointers made. After two more seasons feeling underappreciated in Boston, Allen left as a free agent to sign with the Miami Heat. This gave Allen his best chance at winning another title.

Second Title To Retirement

Ray Allen

Ray Allen became a role player in Miami, but he didn't mind since the team was loaded with young stars. Allen averaged 10.9 points in only 25.8 minutes per game. During the playoffs, in Game 3 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks, Allen led all scorers off the bench with 23, while shooting 8-14 and 5-8 from three.

Allen also broke Reggie Miller's playoffs record for three-pointers made in the game, cementing his place as one of the greatest shooters of all time. Allen's biggest moment of his entire career occurred in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat looked to be out of the game, about to lose the series.

The Heat, led by LeBron James, battled back into the game, down 95-92 with 11.8 seconds remaining in the game. James would fire a three-pointer that missed. Chris Bosh would secure the rebound for the Heat and quickly pass to an open Ray Allen in the corner. Allen didn't have time to think, so he let it fly and the shot swished in with 5.2 seconds left.

This was an incredible shot, maybe the biggest shot in NBA Finals history, but Allen wasn't done. The game went into overtime and with 1.6 seconds remaining, Allen stole the ball from Manu Ginobili. Allen would get fouled, and he hit two free throws, helping the Heat secure the 103-100 victory. In the game, Allen scored only 9 points, but all 9 came in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The Heat would go on to win Game 7 by a score of 95-88, winning the championship. This was Allen's second and final championship. Allen played one more season, also in Miami, and the Heat made it back to the finals for a rematch against the Spurs. This time, the Spurs would dominate the Heat, winning 4-1.

Allen sat out the next season, with the plan of trying to come back and play in the 2015-16 season. He ultimately decided to retire on November 1, 2016, as the NBA leader in three-pointers made with 2973.

Superstar, Steph Curry, has recently surpassed Allen as the leader in three-pointers made all time. But this doesn't take away the fact that Ray Allen is one of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen.

On September 6, 2018, Allen was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. This season, Allen added to his legacy by being named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.

Ray Allen is, of course, one of the greatest shooters in league history. But he's also known as one of the nicest guys to ever play. As a player and a man, you can't ask for better recognition.


Penny Hardaway: One Of The NBA's Biggest What Ifs In NBA History

LeBron James' Playoff Resume Is Incredible: The King Played In The 10 NBA Finals, Winning 4 NBA Championships

Kobe Bryant’s Career-High Against Every NBA Team: 81 Points Against The Raptors Are The Record Of The 21st Century

Magic Johnson vs. Stephen Curry Career Comparison: Everything Is Clear, Magic Is The Greatest Point Guard Of All Time

The Most 3-Pointers Attempted In A Single Season In NBA History: James Harden Holds The Record With 1,028