In terms of rivalries in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, it doesn’t get much more significant than the Miami Heat vs the Boston Celtics. In the grand scheme of things, this is not on par with:

  • any of the great NBA rivalries involving the Lakers or Celtics
  • MLB’s Yankees vs Red Sox
  • NCAA’s Michigan vs Ohio State
  • NHL’s Montreal vs Toronto
  • NFL’s Redskins vs Cowboys

In fact, it’s on par with the rivalry between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots, which isn’t even a rivalry anymore. That was built up around Brady & Belichik vs Manning & Dungy, but the Colts no longer have those pieces in place, so it fades away until Andrew Luck gets to the playoffs and has his team looking like challengers.

Heat vs Celtics is a short term rivalry. It doesn’t have significant legs yet.

In recent history, they have eliminated one another from the playoffs:

  • 2012 Eastern Finals – Miami eliminated Boston in 7 games
  • 2011 Eastern Semis – Miami eliminated Boston in 5 games
  • 2010 First Round – Boston eliminated Miami in 5 games

That’s it. That’s the sum-total of the ENTIRE history between the two teams in the playoffs, and the 2010 series didn’t even involve LeBron James.

To the fans who have a bad taste in their mouth from Ray Allen going to the Heat, why does it surprise you?

Certainly the NBA free-agent traffic patterns of the past few years should help people to understand that the notion of a franchise player is being relegated to a select few. Perhaps the heavy feelings come from Ray Allen being a pivotal force behind bringing relevance back to the Celtics and getting them a championship.

Ray Allen’s not even part of the Celtics “Big 3” anymore. That’s unquestionably Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

Even if Allen was part of the “Big 3”, leaving town is what Ray Allen does.

Paul Pierce? He’s a Celtic. 14 years strong.

Kevin Garnett? The majority of his best years were in Minnesota, but that’s the only other team he has ever played for, and when he left the Timberwolves, fans outside that fanbase were begging another team to land him so he could get a championship after having taken the T-Wolves as far as possible.

That’s not Ray Allen. He started his NBA career in Milwaukee (playing two more seasons for the Bucks than he has for the Celtics), then went west to play for Seattle. After a few years there, he switched coasts and helped the Celtics win a championship.

Allen is an all-time great player who is certainly bound for the Hall Of Fame when he retires. He’s already in the history books. His legacy is cemented. He’s one of the better shooters OF ALL TIME. No doubt about it.

But he’s not a “franchise” guy. Don’t expect him to be. He’s a hired gun who is looking for at least one more championship before retiring. At the age of 36, there’s no question that his odds of doing that with Miami are better than if he were to stay in Boston with the 36 year old Kevin Garnett and the 34 year old Paul Pierce.

Celtics fans, the loss is significant – not as significant as you might feel at the moment – but deep down, you realize that Allen was different than Pierce and Garnett. Those are your franchise guys. They will go into the Hall Of Fame wearing Celtics green. Ray Allen may as well get a technicolor dreamcoat.