NBA 75 Series: #58 Ray Allen by DJ Hamilton


    Ranked #58 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time is one of the sweetest sharpshooters in NBA History in Ray Allen. Born Walter Ray Allen Jr. on July 20, 1975 in Castle Air Force Base, Atwater, California to his mother Flora Allen and Walter Allen Sr. Allen was one of their five children and was taught discipline from a very young age coming from a military family. As a military kid, Allen moved a lot in his childhood from places like the Air Force Base in California, to Saxmundham in England, Altus in Oklahoma, and Germany.

After years of constantly moving, Allen would attend Hillcrest High School in Dalzell, South Carolina, where he would call home for the next four years. When he first arrived, Allen was typically picked on by kids due to the British accent he had from living in England during his elementary school years. While he was kind of an introvert due to always getting picked on, that didn’t deter Allen from using his natural athletic gifts to pair with his military like work ethic to become a tremendous basketball player at Hillcrest.

After a growth spurt, he devoted all his time to basketball to become the best player he could be. At 15 years of age, Allen would play for Hillcrest’s varsity basketball team and help lead them to their first state championship in a blowout victory in which he had a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds, flashing the NBA potential that was evident in his game to college scouts.

Allen would choose to play his college basketball at the University of Connecticut (UConn) from 1993-96 after being recruited by then assistant coach Karl Hobbs. He would go on to have an exceptional college career as a UConn Huskie, where he would be named USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1995, and be named first team All-American and Big East Player of the Year over another future NBA star in Georgetown Hoya guard Allen Iverson.  He would help lead the Huskies the Big East Championship over the Iverson and the Hoyas with one of the most bizarre, clutch shots in college basketball history,  to win 75-74.

Allen would finish his UConn career third on the Huskies career scoring list with 1.922 career points and would show a glimpse of what he would do in the NBA by setting a single-season three-point record of 115 threes made in 1995-96. He would also shoot over 40% from downtown throughout his whole career as a Huskie and over 50% from the field.

He would go on to get selected fifth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but would later be traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night for Stephon Marbury. 

Ultimately though, Allen was known as “Jesus Shuttlesworth” from the iconic basketball movie directed by Spike Lee, “He Got Game” that changed the culture of basketball and featured Denzel Washington. He even got nominated in 1999 by MTV for Best Breakthrough Performance, talk about versatile. 

He is one of the smoothest, purest shooters in NBA history, if not the purest shooter ever. Allen hit a multitude of clutch shots throughout his career, including the greatest shot in NBA history in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals as a member of the Heat, where it seemed like the Spurs were going to win on Miami’s home floor and Allen backed up using his muscle memory and knocked down a huge three pointer in what would have been a Finals loss for the Heat if he missed. He was the premier long-distance king (until Steph passed him this season) in NBA history with 2,973 career made 3-pointers.

He led the league in threes made three times (2001-02, 02-03, 05-06) and people forget, but, Ray Allen in his Milwaukee Bucks years was an athletic freak who would dunk on your head, take you off the dribble, and carried the Bucks to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals where they loss to the Iverson-led Sixers. He would go to the Seattle Supersonics where he would continue starring as a player but wasn’t having much team success.

He would eventually get traded to the Celtics, joining forces with Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, along with a young Rajon Rondo. They would go on to be the beast in the east that season, finishing with the best record in the league, which ended up in a championship in 2008 for the Celtics, Allens first of two titles. He was ahead of his time and would be even better today in his prime in today’s three point revolution.

Jesus Shuttlesworth is a two-time champion (2008, 2013), 10-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, and a member of the prestigious 75th anniversary team.