Ray Allen hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, but over the course of the last two years, there have been lots of rumors about him potentially making a return to the league to help a championship contender. Most recently, the Warriors reportedly thought about trying to sign Allen to their team in the offseason. But those rumors are about to become a thing of the past, because Allen just announced that he is officially retiring from the NBA in an emotional letter he wrote to his younger self on The Players’ Tribune.
"I write this to you today as a 41-year-old man who is retiring from the game," Allen writes. "I write this to you as a man who is completely at peace with himself."
In his letter, Allen addresses the 13-year-old version of himself as he gets off the school bus at a new school in Dalzell, South Carolina. He talks about the obstacles he’ll face as he tries to make new friends at the school following his father’s Air Force transfer:
You’re used to being the kid that nobody knows. The majority of your existence has been about trying to find new friends, trying to show people that you’re a good person and that you mean no harm. You’re used to being an outsider.
You’ve gotten pretty good at it.
This time is different though. It’s the middle of the school year. Everybody already knows one another. You’re at a critical age, and kids are just.…
Kids are just mean.
You’ve grown up in a military household your whole life. Until now, your friends were all from military families. You walked around the neighborhood with your I.D. card hanging around your neck like a dog tag in case some unfamiliar MPs rolled by. You spent your formative elementary school years in Britain. So you don’t even realize it, but to some people, you speak very proper.
When you step off that school bus in South Carolina tomorrow and open your mouth, those kids are going to look at you like you’re an alien.
He also talks about the pushback he’ll receive when he decides to attend the University of Connecticut to play college basketball:
When you start getting attention from colleges, some of your own teammates will say things like, "UConn? You’ll sit on the bench for four years."
Just because you don’t drink, they’ll say, "Man, you’re gonna be an alcoholic once you get to college. You won’t be ready. All they do is drink there."
A lot of people don’t want to see you succeed. Don’t get into fistfights with these kids. Trust me, it will accomplish nothing.
And after he writes about playing in the NBA and the pursuit of championships, he talks about how it’s the journey, not the destination, that brings happiness in the league. He also tells an amazing story about how he spent the morning after Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals in a dentist’s chair instead of sleeping after a wild celebration:
You lay down in bed at about five in the morning, but you just can’t sleep. Finally, around seven o’clock, you give up on sleep and creep downstairs. All your friends and family have come over to your house to celebrate — they’re all passed out on couches, sound asleep. You tiptoe around them on the way to the kitchen to make some breakfast. The sun is coming up, the house is quiet. You have achieved exactly what you set out to do. But you’re still restless.
So why do you feel this way? Isn’t this what you worked so hard for?
Around 7:30, you get into your car and go for a drive.
You park your car in front of a white office building. They’re just opening up.
When you walk in the door, the receptionist looks at you and says, "Ray? What … what are you doing here?"
"I couldn’t sleep."
"But … you just won the title."
"Yeah, I just wanted to get out of the house."
"But … it’s eight in the morning. And you just won the title."
"Well, I still got some work to be done on this tooth. Is he in?"
Your dentist walks out of his office.
"Ray? What are you … what?"
This is what success looks like for you. You’re the kind of guy who goes to the dentist the morning after winning an NBA title.
You can check out the entire letter here. Allen finishes his NBA career with two NBA titles and 10 NBA All-Star selections and is the league’s all-time 3-point scoring leader with 2,973 3-point field goals made. Enjoy retirement, Ray.