Hey, it’s not every day that someone even as famous as Ray Allen plays golf with someone as famous as George Lopez — and helps Lopez celebrate a hole-in-one, no less. So it made plenty of sense for Allen to post a photo Sunday marking the memorable event.
However, it didn’t escape notice that Allen shared the image of a happy scene at a golf course on the same day that Paul Pierce, who Allen helped win the 2008 NBA title with the Celtics before a bitter falling out, had his jersey retired in Boston. Guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer, and quite possibly forever, for those guys to fully patch things up.
Among other prominent figures from that squad who turned up at TD Garden on Sunday to help pay tribute to Pierce were Rajon Rondo, who flew in on an off day for his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans; Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who took advantage of his team being on an East Coast swing, and Kevin Garnett, who has joined Pierce in retirement. Like Pierce, Rondo and Garnett have also had trouble getting over the fact that Allen left the Celtics in 2012 to join LeBron James and the rival Miami Heat.
A reunion of sorts of the 2007-08 Celtics was held last year, when Pierce, Garnett, Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins appeared together on an “Area 21″ segment on “The NBA on TNT.” They discussed the “sour breakup” that took place when Allen defected to Miami, which had ousted Boston from the previous two postseasons.
“I don’t have no beef with none of my teammates, I was just hurt on how it went down,” Pierce said at the time. ” … We hung out all the time and then, when it was time for free agency — and to each his own — I thought we formed a brotherhood here in Boston … That’s what I was hurt about, when Ray didn’t at least give us a heads up about it.”
“People don’t understand that this is real life for us,” Garnett added. “The situation with Ray is very sensitive. I think when we all talked about doing this reunion tour, we was talking about guys that we consider loyal, part of this group.”
In September, Pierce posed for a photo with Allen and said he wanted to “bury the hatchet,” but the latter’s absence from Sunday’s festivities was all the more glaring because former Celtics teammates of Pierce weren’t the only ones who paid tribute to him — Lakers archrival Kobe Bryant did, as well, along with Magic Johnson. “I know it must have been hard for you as a kid growing up in Los Angeles to join the Celtics,” Bryant said with a smile in a video shown at TD Garden.
James was also in attendance Sunday, but that was because his Cavaliers squad was actually playing the Celtics. “I’m gonna have a beer, yell at the refs the whole time, and I may even boo LeBron a couple of times,” Rivers told reporters with a chuckle, adding that the occasion marked the first time in 30 years that he sat in the stands at an NBA game as simply a spectator.
Boston’s Kyrie Irving gave Pierce a hug before the game. During the contest, he hit a nifty step-back jumper over James, his former Cavs teammate, a clip of which was liked by Isaiah Thomas, a former Celtic recently banished by the Cavs to the Lakers at the trade deadline.
James, though, very much had the last laugh in the game, as his new-look Cavs romped past Irving’s Celtics, 121-99. Meanwhile, Pierce was telling ESPN’s Doris Burke on the ABC telecast that the “best part” of the day was having “my family” and “my teammates . . . all in one building” to help him celebrate his No. 34 jersey getting raised to the rafters.
Pierce’s number became the 22nd retired by the Celtics, the most of any major U.S. pro sports franchise. The 10th pick in the 1998 draft, he represented Boston in 10 all-star games and helped the team appear in two NBA Finals, winning Finals MVP in 2008. On Saturday, Celtics great Robert Parish called Pierce the greatest offensive player in team history, topping even Larry Bird.
Allen, of course, was no slouch as a scorer, either, but he is far less identified with a single franchise, having played significant portions of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks and then-Seattle SuperSonics. As for Lopez, congratulations on the hole-in-one — his second! — but didn’t he recently say he was giving up the sport until fellow “avid golfer” President Trump signed “a clean Dream Act”?
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