As soon as Ray Allen had the ball in his hands at the end of regulation in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, I knew the shot was going in. I've been watching Ray hit those shots since before his freshman season at Connecticut.
Never seen a sweeter shooting stroke and I'm not sure I ever will.
What did shock me Thursday night during Game 7 was the news that Ray now holds the NBA record with his 11th appearance in a Game 7. He's the only player in NBA history to do that. The guy that held the record, Bill Russell of the Celtics, was in attendance in Miami Thursday night. Russell played in 10 Game 7's during his 14-year career and his last was in 1969 against the Lakers.
It has taken that long for someone to best Russell's mark. That's amazing. It's also a credit to the success Ray has brought to every team he has played for. He made the decision to leave the Celtics last summer because Ray is all about winning, all about making his team better. He didn't see that opportunity in Boston any more and even though a lot of UConn fans and Celtics fans around New England felt jilted, there's no doubt now that Ray made the right decision for himself and his family.
"I've been a part of Game 7's throughout my career, whether it was The Finals or just the playoffs in general," Allen said between the final two games. "In many situations it's a scary feeling, because anything can happen. You're on the fence. If you don't come, you don't bring it, you can be on the other side of it. It's not a happy, great feeling that you feel coming down from it.
"As a competitor you love it because you know you have an opportunity, and it's up to you. We have a chance in our building to make something great. All of our legacies are tied to this moment, to this game. Something that our kids will be able to talk about that they were a part of and our family members. So forever we'll remember these moments."
Ray looked pretty happy Thursday night after the Heat defeated the Spurts 95-88 to the win the NBA championship. UConn fans should be happy for him as well. He now has two NBA championship rings, the other coming in 2008 with the Celtics. That makes him the first UConn basketball alum to have more than one NBA ring.
Scott Burrell (1997-98 Bulls), Travis Knight (1999-2000 Lakers) and Richard Hamilton (2003-04 Pistons) are the other UConn players who have been a part of NBA championships.
It's hard to believe Allen is 37 and just finished his 17th season in the NBA. It doesn't seem that long ago that he left UConn. He averaged 10.2 points during this year's playoffs and shot 40.6 percent from three-point range. The biggest three-pointer, maybe of his career, came from the corner with 5.2 seconds left in regulation in Game 6. The Heat went on to win 103-100 in overtime.
Ray is the most prolific three-point shooter in the NBA with 2,857. And he has 23,804 points. Just think about that.
Who knows what the future holds. Right now, just raise a glass to Ray. It's been an amazing career, from Dalzell, S.C., to Storrs, and now to Miami.