It seems like a lot of effort for what is only a 20-minute workout, especially for a player that only averaged eight shots per game in the regular season. Still, it’s a routine, and Ray Allen is sticking with it. Since Allen’s second NBA season, so long ago that it was Michael Jordan’s final year with the Chicago Bulls, Ray has been getting to home and away arenas three and a half hours before tipoff to work on his shooting. The practice routine has continued unabated for a decade and a half, with four different teams, and his slavish devotion to the workout has changed the culture for the Miami Heat.
So much so that the franchise decided to rent out a third team bus, one that often features just Allen and a couple of team employees/personal rebounders, heading to and from the arena. Which means Allen and the Heat, who will play their 98th game of the season on Monday night, have pretty much cashed in the ecological goodwill that LeBron James’ bike rides created nearly a hundred times over.
Allen is, um, aware. From Chris Tomasson’s very good feature in Fox Sports Florida:
“I don’t help that none whatsoever,’’ Allen quipped about the team bus making an extra trip not exactly aiding the energy crisis.
Tomasson reports that Allen learned his practice routine from former Bucks teammates Michael Curry and Elliot Perry. Both were tough, cerebral players who were undersized at their positions, but neither was a reliable shooter throughout their NBA career. Which just goes to show you that shooters are born, not made. Quit practicing your jumpers, kids. You either have it, or you don’t.
Allen’s routine consists of essentially working from the same spots that the NBA asks you to run to during the All-Star break’s three-point competition, along with free throws and simulated attempts at peeling off of screens. Basically a night’s work for Ray Allen, compartmentalized into a quick, 20-minute brow dampener that finishes some three hours before tip-off, and a few hours after that morning’s team shootaround or walk-through.
Erik Spoelstra revealed to Tomasson that LeBron James has trucked along with Allen “a few times,” as have teammates Mike Miller, James Jones, and Chris Andersen. Mostly, though, Allen is by himself on the third bus. Which means he’s often having to share sometimes-darkened, sometimes annoyingly-loud court time with the other types of NBA “game” entertainment, troupes that need their own practice time as well.
“I’ve dodged a lot of cheerleaders in my career,’’ Allen said. “I’ve had people seemingly doing it on purpose in the playoffs. They know I’m going to be out there. They know my routine and just try to distract me. Cleveland was one spot (where it happened). They (cheerleaders) were trying to sabotage me. It was pretty funny. But it actually kind of helped me because it helped me navigate through it and focus more.’’
(Cheerleader Sabotage II: The Allening)
Ray needs all the help he can get against the stifling Indiana Pacers defense. He’s hit for just 24 percent of his three-pointers in nine playoff and regular season games this season against Indiana, a “slump” that dates back to 2011-12, when Allen missed 17 of 27 shots in his final two games against Indiana as a member of the Boston Celtics. Allen has had some good looks in this series, which has to make the Pacers nervous about a bout of slump-busting as they head into Monday’s Game 7, but by and large he’s been shut out.
Weird, for a guy that seems to have the keys to every gym in the NBA. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals doesn’t tip off until 8:30 Eastern on Monday, but by the time you read this, Ray Allen may already have squeezed off 35 three-pointers.