Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ray Allen: Old Men and the NBA Finals

Ray Allen will have to be a once-in-a-generation player to meet Pat Riley's expectations for the "new generation of athletes" and help the Miami HEAT win multiple championships.

Will Allen's Legacy be Longevity or Injury?
At Allen's introductory press conference, Riley said the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made was part of a "new generation of athletes that may even become better players after 30 years old." Allen was 36 years-old when he signed with the HEAT on July 11, 2012.

Riley compared Allen to one player in the press conference and only 1 NBA player in the last 25 years of NBA history played significant minutes in more than one NBA Finals at 37+ years-old: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (see the table below).

Kareem made no secret that his workout regimen was the key to his longevity. Kareem produced like a star player at 37 years-old but fell much closer to average the next two seasons in his career at 38 and 39. That's the problem with longevity in the NBA. Everybody falls off eventually, even the Association's supremely-conditioned, all-time leading scorer.

I thought Ray Allen was done in 2010 when he shot the second-worst 3-point percentage in his career, shot 4-28 from behind the arc after setting a Finals record in Game 2 with 8 3-pointers and was badly outplayed in the 2010 Finals by Kobe Bryant. But Allen bounced back from that with the two best 3-point shooting seasons of his career.

Alfredo Arteaga from said Allen maintains a strict workout regimen like Kareem to keep himself in excellent shape and compared him to the most productive center in Miami HEAT history, Alonzo Mourning, who played until he was 37.

Of course, the problem is that Zo blew his knee out at 37. Allen will be 37 years old on July 20, 2012.

Can Ray Allen avoid Zo's fate and do something that hasn't been done since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired? Can he help the HEAT win more than 1 title on the road to "Not 5, Not 6, Not 7..." championships?

The answer could be the difference between a Hall of Fame player without a jersey retired in any NBA arena and a Hall of Fame player whose #34 jersey hangs from the rafters of the American Airlines Arena.

Check out the articles below for more on Allen and retired jerseys at the AAA:

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