Now that "super teams" have become somewhat of a regular thing around the NBA, it's easy to forget the Boston Celtics kick-started the trend back in 2007. No, it was not LeBron James, "taking his talents to South Beach," or Kevin Durant fleeing the Thunder to play for the Golden State Warriors, but Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joining up with Paul Pierce in the summer before the 2007-08 season.
Despite winning a championship together in 2008, there has been some animosity within the group ever since Allen fled the Celtics for LeBron's Heat back in 2012. It turned out to be the right move for him professionally—he won another title after hitting one of the most iconic shots in basketball history during the 2013 Finals—but his former Celtics buddies effectively froze him out for jumping ship.
They finally appeared to "bury the hatchet" Saturday night, as Pierce and Allen posed together in a picture as a show of solidarity.
This is a pretty sharp turn from Pierce, who has dished on the icy relationship between Allen and the rest of his former teammates in the past. While speaking positively of their on-court relationship, Pierce insisted during a 2015 interview that Allen was never truly part of the team's fabric away from the hardwood.
"It was a weird relationship,'' Pierce told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "We were all good friends on the court, but Ray always did his own thing. That's just the way Ray was. Even when we were playing together, we'd be having a team dinner and Ray wouldn't show up. We'd go to his charity events but Ray wouldn't show up to somebody else's."
The divide was even clearer this past May, when five players from that Celtics era—Pierce, Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis—assembled for a segment on TNT, and Garnett spelled out the divide between Allen and the rest of the former Celtics.
“It was more than basketball for us… It felt like a sour breakup.”— KG's Area 21 (@KGArea21) May 9, 2017
Pierce, KG, Rondo, Big Baby & Perk share their thoughts on Ray Allen. pic.twitter.com/8JYRWmxm0i
“People don’t understand that this is real life for us, and that the situation with Ray is very sensitive,” Garnett said. "Just being honest, my two cents man, when Ray decided to go to the Heat, I feel like he moved on. He went to pursue another ring, and he got another ring. Shout out to him. And that’s it. It wasn’t no other Wizards, it wasn’t no other Heat, it wasn’t no other Spurs. It was all Celtics invited to this."
Because of how strong these quotes are, it's worth noting that Pierce is the only guy we're aware of who has actually moved on from the beef with Allen. Rondo is known to have beef with Allen that perhaps goes beyond the animosity from the rest of the group, and there's no indication Garnett is close to moving on yet. Pierce was the longest-tenured Celtics player and his voice carries weight, but standing alongside Allen is no guarantee the rest of the crew will join in.
Some basketball fans even joked about the potential reaction from other players after seeing the photo circulate on social media, though many were just happy to see the old teammates link up.
Kevin Garnett when he sees that picture of Paul Pierce & Ray Allen together..... pic.twitter.com/Jhv88yAoUc— isaac(#FreeMonta) (@Stat4Stat) September 10, 2017
If y'all think I'm gonna just go and forgive Ray Allen just because Paul Pierce told me to then you are absolutely right— Tormund (@GamePhreak845) September 10, 2017
The fact that some Celtics fans are only now accepting Ray Allen again because Pierce said so is crazy....I got over it years ago ☘️— CJ Nolan (@CJNolan34) September 10, 2017
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.— Chris Walder Frey (@WalderSports) September 10, 2017
Am I seeing things?!?! pic.twitter.com/0df8N3RyXS
Some grudges may never die, but these men accomplished something that can never be taken away from them by winning an NBA championship. Hopefully, they can focus on that, rather than decisions in free agency, because it's a special journey they should be able to cherish together for the rest of their lives.