Jackie MacMullen back in 2008 on Ray Allen:
The routine is paramount. People don't understand that. They see Ray Allen, his head meticulously shaved, his jersey tucked carefully into his shorts, his socks pulled up to precisely the same length, and they are drawn to his silky jumper. Can you blame them? It is so smooth, so fluid, so seemingly effortless.
Everyone wishes they could shoot like Ray. They tell him that all the time. They are envious, they say, of his God-given talent.
"An insult," says Allen. "God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot."
Allen's mantra is that you must walk, talk, eat, and dress as though you are the best. Garnett concurs - to a point. KG does not feel obligated to wear tailored suits to prove his commitment, as Allen does.
"Ray is very strong-minded," Garnett says. "When you have other guys who are as strong, obviously you are going to have debates. But I think the young guys can see we can challenge one another without being destructive.
"I'm not going to say it was easy, but it was simple. Communicating is the best thing we do. A lot of people talk to hear themselves talk. Here, guys talk with their soul."
But coach Doc Rivers needed his trio to listen with the same fervor. His three stars were used to going about things in their own way, with teammates who deferred to them. That was no longer possible, and Rivers knew who would suffer the most.
"Earlier in the year, Ray would come to me and say, 'This is the way I used to do it,' " Rivers says. "I'd tell him, 'That's in the past.' Ray is a military guy. It was hard for him.
"But I told him if we were going to win this thing, he had to change."
At UConn, Ray plotted his workouts as if he were one of the coaches. Jim Calhoun would show the team game film and Allen would ask to see it again, not because he needed to, but because he knew his teammates hadn't paid proper attention.
"It's internal," says Calhoun, "but it's there 24 hours a day. Ray does things the right way, and expects others to do them, too. People are sloppy - in their preparation, in the way they present themselves.
"Not Ray. Never."
Buying into concessions
The Celtics have asked Ray Allen to reinvent himself this season. He plays fewer minutes, takes fewer shots, is no longer the focal point of the offense.
"You see him sacrifice," says Perkins, "and you think, 'If he can do it, then I can do it, too.' "
Those changes were palatable for Ray. But he blanched when Rivers changed the team shoot around from the morning of the game to three hours before the game. And when Davis's minutes dwindled, and the coaches asked him to put in workouts before and after games, that cut into Allen's alone time on the floor.
"The last time I talked to Ray, he was ticked at Big Baby for not playing better, because he was messing up his pregame," Calhoun says. "I said to Ray, 'You've been in this league 12 years. Don't you have this down by now?' "
The Celtics have benefited most from Allen, who admits he's made more concessions this season than all the others combined.
"I'm so happy with Ray," says Rivers. "He hasn't fought it.
"Our young guys are lucky to be around him. Too often these kids make it to the NBA and they settle. Ray won't let them."