THE 2008 Boston Celtics championship team’s core got together on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) with one key member missing.
Kevin Garnett hosted newly retired Paul Pierce, along with ex-teammates Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis on his ‘Area 21’ segment in TNT’s NBA playoffs coverage to reminisce and look back on their journey ahead of the 10th year anniversary celebration of their title.
The show was filled with laughs and had an appearance of their old coach Doc Rivers, who gave Pierce a wheelchair for his retirement gift, a gesture that recalls the Celtics star getting wheeled off due to an injury in the 2008 NBA Finals before making a remarkable comeback on the court shortly after.
Perkins even shared how Rivers and Rondo could have led the NBA in times that player and coach squared off, which cracked up the guys some more.
But in a more somber six-minute segment, the former Celtics teammates bared why Ray Allen will not be part of any of their celebrations and reunions anytime soon.
Allen began the break-up of a contending Celtics team when he joined LeBron James and their East rival Miami Heat in 2012, and five years later the pain lingers for Garnett and Co.
"I just feel like, it ain't what Ray did, it's how he did it. We did form a family. We all shed tears together, talked about some of the deepest things - I'm talking about outside of basketball that the world don't know about. If you felt like you wanted to go that way and [sign with a rival], I just think he could have handled it a different way," said Perkins.
"I was initially hurt by the whole way everything went down. ... I thought we formed a brotherhood here in Boston. Just how we carried ourselves, not only on the court, but off the court. And I just figured if it was me leaving or KG leaving, then I would have been like, 'Rondo, Perk, Baby, this is what I've been thinking about.'
"That's what I was hurt by when Ray didn't just at least give us a heads-up about it,” added Pierce, whose Celtics team fell to the Heat in seven games in the 2012 East finals, which added more insult to injury.
Allen had a more lucrative offer to stay in Boston, but went instead to Miami for a chance to win another title, which he got in 2013 where he played a memorable role for the Heat.
Pierce was particularly miffed all these years that Allen never talked to them about entertaining such a move to a hated rival. He understood that at the time Allen was feeling disgruntled as Rivers went more with young guard Avery Bradley, but the pain lingers and he has not talked to Allen since then.
“We hated them, we hated Miami and that was our rival, we were going at it with them, LeBron and all them. I just think if we had all just kinda talked about it, it would have been a little different than it is now. Now it's uncomfortable. I haven't talked to Ray in some years now. It's just different," he shared.
Garnett admitted that the situation remains sensitive for their loyal group even as they all have left Boston after that. He also remained optimistic that all will be well in time between them and Allen.
"I think that when we all talked about doing this reunion tour, we were talking about guys who we consider loyal and part of this group. Just being honest, my two cents, when Ray decided to go to the Heat, I felt like he moved on. And he went to pursue another ring, he got another ring, shouts to him. And that's it. There was no other Wizards, it wasn't no other Spurs, it wasn't no other Heat. It was all Celtics invited to this," said Garnett.
Perkins, though, said that it would be on Allen to make the first move for a reconciliation.
"Who going to break the ice? At this point in time, I don't think it's on nobody on here to break the ice. I actually think it's on Ray to break the ice,” he said.
“If Ray wants to make amends with anybody up here or whatever the case, I think it's on him to reach out and say, 'Hey [Pierce], I handled this wrong. Man, we better than this. Hey Ticket, I handled this wrong. Hey Big Baby, I handled this wrong, or hey, Rondo, I handled this wrong, man.' Just get it past this, man. We won games together, man. We did a lot of things," he added.
Rondo, curiously, remained silent through it all, even with the group prodding him to speak up. The only active player among them, Rondo was most vocal about not including Allen in a reunion as both of them had numerous clashes in their final season together in Boston.