Mentor, Protege Reunited Years Later For Title Run
Professional athletes play with an edge. It’s required because most of their careers are spent competing with their peers.
In the NBA, guys are fighting for wins, popularity, endorsements, women, fame and many other elements that make up the life of a professional athlete. That dynamic can make finding real friends and lasting relationships difficult. It’s understandable: Who wants to be friends with someone trying to take food off their table? There’s also the jealously that comes from the insecurities created by the pressure of the business. It would seem that walking alone gives you the best chance to win.
Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are different.
They’ve built a friendship that is stronger than the obstacles they’ve experienced dealing with the business of basketball. They’re like brothers who respect each other on the court and appreciate each other when the game ends. They’ve relied on their bond to help with the transition to Miami, while enjoying another chance to play together in the twilight of their careers.
“I was sitting at my home in Connecticut when I found out; I was excited,” Allen said. “I randomly called him and he told me he was coming down and looking forward to being able to join.
“I was very excited. He’s a guy that’s made a great career for himself. The teams we played for in Seattle, we had some great times. Over four years, we only made it to the playoffs one time, but he had some great teams. We had fun together and respected each other and that’s something I’ve always appreciated and cherished.”
Early in Lewis’ career, Allen served as his mentor, teaching him how to be a pro on and off the court. Fifteen years and two All-Star berths later, Lewis is still using the things Allen taught him all those years ago.
“Ray helped me make my first All-star team,” Lewis said. “He taught me the importance of taking care of my body and important off-the-court things. I listened to him a lot and it’s helped my career. I still use all of his tips today.”
Allen has watched his star pupil closely over the years, noticing Lewis using the lessons he taught the 15-year pro early in his career; it’s something Allen truly appreciates.
“It’s been pretty interesting. He says a lot of little sayings that he remembers from the things we did in the Seattle days,” Allen said. “It’s always shown me that, whether he says it or not, I’ve had an impact on him and his career. It shows me that he continued to do the right things. If you set the right examples, people will follow. “
Lewis and Allen have helped each other adjust to life in Miami. Neither guy knew much about their new teammates. In fact, they didn’t know anything other than what they learned from playing against them. They’ve relied on their friendship to help them deal with their new surroundings.
“When we first got to Miami, we didn’t know any of the guys too well off the court,” Lewis said. “So having Ray here made is easier for me and my family because we know each other. My kids have other kids to play with. His mom will look after the kids. My wife has his wife to call if she wants to go out to eat or hang out. It’s like having a second family.”
Allen was also relieved to know his good friend would be in Miami. He’s gone through heated battles with the Heat and didn’t know what to expect when he arrived. Not to mention his former teammates in Boston want nothing to do with him. It’s safe to say Allen needed an ally.
“I know Rashard,” Allen said. “When I knew he was coming, I knew what I was going to be getting from him and that was a great comfort knowing that.”
Allen and Lewis didn’t come to Miami solely to play together. They want to win a title. The feeling is Miami is the perfect spot to compete for a championship and add a few years to their careers. Winning a title together would be the icing on the cake.
“Winning a title with Ray would be awesome,” Lewis said. “He has a ring already, but coming back together at the end of our careers and getting one together would be great. It’s like coming full circle, we started together and we can win it together.”