From Boston to Miami

University of Connecticut basketball fans rejoiced in 2007 when former Husky Ray Allen joined the Boston Celtics, the NBA team of choice for most New Englanders. Now UConn fans will have to grow accustomed to seeing Allen in the uniform of Boston's most recent rival – the Miami Heat.

It's a decision that shocked the Celtics organization and will be difficult for Boston fans to deal with.

News broke late Friday night that Allen, entertaining offers from the free agent market, has agreed to sign with the defending NBA champions from South Beach. Allen reportedly turned down a richer offer from the Celtics. Allen, who will turn 37 later this month, informed both teams of his decision Friday night.

Allen met with the Heat for several hours on Thursday. Then he reportedly returned to his home in Connecticut to make his decision.

The Associated Press and ESPN.com reported this:

It is believed Allen will accept the Heat's mid-level exception that starts at $3.09 million and could be worth a maximum of $9.5 million over three seasons.

"#HeatNation please welcome our newest teammate Ray Allen #Wow #JesusShuttlesworth," LeBron James tweeted Friday night.

Boston, where Allen had played for the past five seasons and won a championship in 2008, had offered Allen a two-year deal at double the salary for $12 million plus a no-trade clause. Heat owner Micky Arison celebrated the news by tweeting, "Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news. Welcome to the family #20."

A person briefed on details of the decision told The Associated Press that Arison got the word from Heat president Pat Riley, who made Allen the team's top free-agent priority -- especially in recent days. Allen, who will be 37 this month, arrived in Miami on Thursday for a visit, went to dinner with Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, team executive Alonzo Mourning and others Thursday night, then left Friday to presumably decide his future.

The Boston Herald wrote: Not since Johnny Damon became a Yankee has Boston's fandom been forced to absorb such a shocking change of uniforms.

Allen cannot sign until Wednesday because of the NBA's moratorium.

There had been rumors of Allen's departure from the moment the Celtics lost to the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. The former NBA All-Star and college All-American was very emotional in the final seconds of that loss and at the postgame press conference.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week that the Celtics were going doing everything they could to keep Allen in a Boston uniform. But perhaps the Celtics organization didn't think Allen would take such a drastic pay cut.


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