An Ode to Ray Allen, the Greatest Shooter in NBA History
1,300 games played
2,973 three pointers
2x NBA Champion
At this point, most basketball fans are well-versed with some of the best shooting statistics the NBA will ever see -- but what can we learn from Ray Allen's recent retirement letter?
In the future, when fans, writers, and voters look back at Allen’s career, these Hall of Fame-worthy numbers will be top of mind, undoubtedly. What probably won’t be discussed, though, is what he did to accomplish these iconic results.
You can easily go online and watch numerous highlights of Allen hitting game-winning shots, but you won’t find the hours he spent in the gym training and learning.
Allen announced his retirement from the NBA in a Players’ Tribune article entitled Letter to My Younger Self last week and it's a must-read for athletes of any level. He not only touches upon his laundry list of accomplishments, but, more importantly, he speaks to the discipline he’s had during training and preparation. Though most of us will never lift win a championship, we can still take away some valuable lessons from Allen in regards to our daily regimens and routines.
In his personal letter to himself, Allen says this:
“The championships are almost secondary to the feeling you’ll get from waking up every morning and putting in the work. Life is about the journey, not the destination. And that journey will change you as a person.”
We're all training for something, whether it’s a personal achievement, professional goal, or trying to make a team. It can be really easy to lose sight of anything but the finish line; however, Allen’s examples should resonate with us every day -- even if you're at home, on vacation, or at the gym. The reality is that if we don’t enjoy the process and the day-to-day work, we’ll likely never reach our goals.
In another section, Allen reflects on avoiding trouble and proving the naysayers wrong -- the result is poignant:
"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.'
[. . .] remember exactly who said those things.
Remember how they said it.
Remember their faces.
Keep these voices inside your head and use them as fuel every single day when you wake up."
Unsurprisingly, Allen goes on to highlight the one characteristic that stands out from his two championship teams as their habits. And between other legends like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, they'd see who would get to practice earliest and then be the last out of the gym -- who wanted it more? Who was willing to put in the extra work? Will it be you? What activities are you trying to make habits, and what habits are you making regular? The answers to these hold the real value of working towards a goal.
As Allen would say, get your work in.
The rest is history.