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Yes, congrats to Ray Allen. Great career, awesome career. 22nd all time in points. 14th all time in minutes played. And of course the most three pointers made in NBA History. 2 Titles in 19 seasons. Arguably the greatest spot up shooter in NBA History and an extremely underrated all-around player due to that. Instant Hall Of Famer, no doubt about it. Just had to get that out of the way.
That shot has to go down as the single biggest shot in NBA History right? From a pressure and historical significance standpoint, that’s the most important shot in NBA History.
Jordan misses on Russell against Utah and it still goes to a Game 7. John Paxson misses the three against Phoenix and it still goes to a Game 7. Magic misses the Sky Hook and that series is still just 2-2. Kyrie misses the three this past year and the game would still be tied.
If Ray Allen doesn’t hit that three pointer, that’s it. He misses that shot and the Spurs win the title. If his toe is on the three point line or his heel is out of bounds or that shot goes an inch either way, the entire landscape of the NBA is never the same. Think about the fallout if he misses and the Heat lose that game… Do the Big Three break up? Does Bosh get traded? Does Wade leave? Does Lebron? Do players and teams sour on the idea of SuperTeams? Do the Heat double down and attempt to lure Melo to Miami? Do the Spurs have the same motivation the next season, or would Oklahoma City have beat them in the Conference Finals? Do Durant and Westbrook win the title the next year? Do vets go to OKC on minimum contracts instead of Miami? Does Golden State become the team they became if a dominant OKC team is in their way? Does Boston go for one last title run instead of trading Pierce and Garnett? Does Indiana lay claim to the East in Miami’s wake? And what happens to Lebron? Can he recover from losing another Finals? Does he have the stomach to go back to Cleveland? Would he ever go somewhere else?
We’re looking at an entirely different league if that shot doesn’t fall. If Ray Allen wasn’t a meticulous psychopath that practiced that exact type of shot hundreds of thousands of times…
Sports Illustrated — As a young player in Milwaukee, Allen invented a drill in which he lies in the key, springs to his feet and backpedals to the corner. A coach throws him a pass. He has to catch and shoot without stepping on the three-point line or the sideline. In Allen’s first training session with the Heat, just after Labor Day 2012, he performed the drill. “It was the first time I ever saw anybody do that,” Spoelstra says. “He told me he does it for offensive rebounding purposes. He said, ‘You never know when you’ll be in a situation where you have to find the three-point line without looking down.’ “… With Ginóbili down, a cavalry of four Spurs charged at Allen, led by Parker. But he wasn’t rushing. According to an ESPN Sport Science segment, Allen’s average shot release takes .73 of a second. This time he waited a leisurely .83. “If you didn’t know the context — if you took a picture of my positioning, my body, and erased the backdrop — you’d just say, ‘Oh, that’s Ray shooting a three-pointer,’ ” Allen says. “It looked exactly the same.”
…nothing would be the same. I love to think about that kind of stuff. The hypotheticals, the “what if’s”, the millions of differing outcomes from one simple moment. And this might be the greatest “What If?” in NBA History. Wild stuff, right?
Yet when you think about it… it’s not that wild.
If anything, it was expected. Ray Allen’s entire career… his well-deserved reputation for maniacal preparation… can be boiled down to that one moment. All the shots he put up, all their drills, all the obsessive compulsive habits. All of that led to one singular moment, and it paid off accordingly.
Yes, the league would look much different if he missed that shot… but he was never missing that shot. He put in too many hours to miss that shot. He did too many drills to step on the line. He was too prepared to let the moment overwhelm him. Of course plenty of factors played in to him getting the opportunity. Lebron making the three to bring them within two, Kawhi missing a free throw, Lebron missing a three, Bosh grabbing the rebound of his life and making a perfect pass, Manu falling down. We never saw those things coming. But the second Allen got that ball it was never going anywhere other than through the net.
In the moment we were stunned. But after 17 years, we all should’ve known.
P.S. Shout out to Chris Bosh for never getting enough credit for that rebound and, more importantly, that pass to Allen. More unexpected heroism: Kevin Love locking down Steph Curry on the final possession, or Chris Bosh getting a TOUGH rebound in traffic to get the ball to Allen? Redemption comes in the weirdest forms in the sport of basketball, man.