The Best of a Bad Situation: 1. Ray Allen

There was never a doubt we’d end up here.

Ask any NBA fan if there is a Milwaukee Bucks player they can remember over the past 20 years and, after thinking for a while, they’ll probably say Michael Redd. But that’s only because he or she forgot the Bucks used to actually have a real live superstar in Ray Allen.

It seems like a lifetime ago that he was the most identifiable Bucks player. At that time, Allen was as associated with the Bucks as they were with him. But Allen moved on quickly. He had success leading the Seattle Sonics and ultimate success with the Boston Celtics. Now, the Bucks are almost just a  footnote in Allen’s career. Milwaukee seems little more than the spot where he began his pre-game routine, fine tuned it, perfected it.

In Allen’s NBA life, the Bucks are the girlfriend he met when he was young. He was serious about her, as she was about him. They had some amazing times together and when things were at their best, it seemed like they would be together forever. There wasn’t enough to keep them together though. He couldn’t take the team where it wanted to be by himself and the team couldn’t surround Allen with the help he needed. Things got messy when George Karl alienated his star, as he’s so good at doing. Karl wanted back an old flame in Gary Payton and Allen and the Bucks split.

Allen moved on and thrived in each new setting he was placed in. His new life in Seattle with another high scoring team that prided itself on its shooting wasn’t all that different from the one he once knew in Milwaukee. And when it was time for him to settle down and accept a smaller but equally important role in Boston, Allen was ready. He didn’t need to be the star in a new Big Three with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. He just needed to be reliable. It was the perfect role for the man who still holds the Bucks consecutive games streak with 400.

The Bucks never really recovered from the breakup. The team had the same problems surrounding Allen’s replacement that they had surrounding Allen. It’s not very difficult to imagine our feelings about Allen being pretty close to our feelings about Redd had he stuck around. Both were big time scorers, while Allen was more reliable and a better creator, his job in Milwaukee was never going to be very different than the one Redd took on.

One of the most significant differences between Allen and Redd was how the Bucks fared during each of their peaks. While Allen played with the most talented set of teammates the Bucks have had in 20 years, Redd was surrounded by an ever changing cast of castoffs. A Mo Williams here, a Ruben Patterson there, Redd was never given the same chance to be a star Allen was despite eclipsing many of Allen’s marks as a scorer and matching many as a shooter. If you’re thinking about a three-point shooter on the Milwaukee Bucks, Allen and Redd go hand in hand.

But that’s the difficulty of the NBA. It’s not enough to be good, you have to be in the right situation and take advantage of it. Allen maximized his situation at every stop along the way in his NBA career. And I mean maximize dearly and truly. Ray Allen landed a starring role in a Spike Lee movie while he was the MILWAUKEE BUCKS SHOOTING GUARD.

Currently we all take note of the near constant buzz that seems to surround Brandon Jennings, but Jennings gets his pub in a much different way than Ray did. Jennings is vocal on Twitter, shouting out where he’s going to be and what he’ll be doing. He’s vocal on the court, strutting about with his mouth moving and head waving regardless of who the Bucks are playing. Jennings is an attention grabber, whether the reasons are right or wrong.

Allen was never that guy. He was quiet and unassuming. He didn’t coral attention. Even his game was based on a simple, feathery jump-shot. Allen would scream after only the biggest of dunks in only the biggest of moments. He didn’t have much to say on the court.

His game never stopped talking though. It talked enough that it got him to talking with Lee and a starring role next to Denzel Washington.

His game made him a superstar and everything else came along with it. And while Jennings has earned himself some attention with his play and with his personality, he has a ways to go before he earns that superstar title.

Redd replaced him as a shooter and Jennings has replaced him as someone worth talking about on the Bucks, but neither has been able to accomplish Allen’s most impressive feat. Become a superstar in Milwaukee. So as we approach 10 years since Allen last played for the Bucks, we’re still waiting for that next superstar to come along.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

7 Comments

  1. Man, you could write poetry about that guys jumpshot. I am a fan of whatever team he’s on and probably always will be. I can’t even pretend to look a tenth of smooth as that guy does seemingly so easily. Again, great columns here guys. Top notch.

  2. Are you kidding me? Ray Allen a superstar? He was nice but he was like the 4th best 2 guard in the league at best. Kobe, T-Mac, and Vince ran the position, Ray simply played it.

  3. @Chukaz
    I guess it all depends on what you deem a superstar. Ray had a deal with Jordan brand, starred in a movie, was recognizable nationally, led his team within a game of the NBA finals and was a perennial All-Star. He only made one All-NBA team as a member of the Bucks, so that may hurt his case, but he was pretty highly regarded at the time.

    I’d argue Carter wasn’t necessarily better, just flashier. Carter’s game commanded more attention than Allen’s.

  4. Awesome countdown bucksketball! I agree with the nearly all of the rankings. Ray Allen is a truly special player and will go down as one of my all time favorite athletes. A silky smooth jumpshot and a tireless work ethic. I will always regret we actually traded that guy. Even being in hindsight, you fire Karl and find a new coach. The big 3 was one of the most potent combinations of they day and always played all the best teams of the time hard and played well. I can only dream of the potential but relish the memories and will forever be a Bucks fan because of Allen and that team. Ray will always be a Buck to me!

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  6. @Chukaz – Ray Allen is a 1st/2nd ballot Hall of Famer. Even before he joined the Celtics he was at worst a borderline HOFer considering his Bucks & Sonics career.

    Vince Carter will not make the hall of fame.

  7. @Bizzucks: I could not agree with you more. Ray Allen is the man I came to model my game after, and mirroring his work ethic and professionalism has paid dividends in my athletic and professional life.

    @Chuckaz: dunkers and slashers will always get more pub than shooters because they’re more marketable and just more fun to watch. I’d never conclude VC was a better SG than Allen at any point in their careers. When has Vince ever led a team past the first round as its best player? Who has aged better as their careers reach their respective twilight? What marks in the record book will Carter leave when he’s all done (maybe Toronto’s all-time leading scorer, but that’s still saying very little)?