Remembering a Play: When Chris Bosh and Ray Allen Saved LeBron’s Legacy

Sports Remembering a Play
Remembering a Play: When Chris Bosh and Ray Allen Saved LeBron’s Legacy

The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks played Game 1 of the NBA Finals last night,

with Boston winning handily, 107-89. I had a thought to do a topical Remembering a Play for either team, but I remembered some Boston dominance already, and the last thing that city needs is more attention on their winning sports teams.

Dallas could be an option to remember when Dirk Nowitzki carved a new path for foreign players as the top guy on a championship team, but I am still suffering from my live sports weekend from hell and cannot talk about any team coming out of the Western Conference until my pained Denver Nuggets soul is soothed.

So we’re going to keep with the NBA Finals theme but remember a way cooler and far more important play than either of these teams can provide this century: when Chris Bosh grabbed LeBron James’s potential legacy-defining brick and passed it to the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history (pre-Steph Curry), who then ripped the Larry O’Brien Trophy out of the San Antonio Spurs’ hands and gave the league’s preeminent villains new life.

Ray Allen is obviously the highlight here, as the footwork to backpedal behind the three-point line, retain his balance and get a picture-perfect shot up is just bonkers, but Chris Bosh gets forgotten too often for setting this historic play into motion with a grown man rebound in traffic.

Not to go all Bill Simmons on you folks, but it’s hard not to wonder what happens if Manu Ginobili had reached the LeBrick first. One thing is for certain, had Ginobili made his free throws to close it out after grabbing the miss, that would have been the defining moment of LeBron’s career to that point. He had an open three to get his team back into it and he blew it, and now he would have to watch the Spurs celebrate a championship on his home court.

Assuming this would not change the course of the future, San Antonio would have won back-to-back titles over Miami the following year, giving Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan five championships from 2003 to 2014 and stepping all over LeBron’s legacy as the league’s dominant force.

Remove Ray Allen’s BANG! and LeBron’s career looks a lot different. All of a sudden, his supervillain-esque Decision to unite a Big Three in South Beach with Dwyane Wade would have only produced one championship in four years over a baby-faced Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City team they had no business losing to.

LeBron’s Miami years would have been characterized as a failure given his pledge to win “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships. The shocking loss their first year to Dirk’s Mavericks was chalked up to three superstars still learning how to play together, and the win over OKC seemed to suggest the plan was on track. Their dramatic Finals victory the next year over the league’s preeminent dynasty acted as confirmation that LeBron’s scheme worked.

Miami lost to San Antonio in the NBA Finals the year after Ray Allen’s era-defining shot, and LeBron left for Cleveland the following season only to run into the buzzsaw that was Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers beat Golden State the following year as the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit, but it was sparked by Draymond Green famously coming into contact with LeBron’s nether region in Game 4 to give Cleveland an advantage sans a suspended Green in Game 5.

Had Ray Allen missed or if Chris Bosh did not grab the rebound, come 2020, the face of the league would have just two championships—one against an overmatched young squad and another sparked by the league’s biggest hothead tossing LeBron a lifeline. Now as a Los Angeles Laker, James would finally win another title…in a bubble where no team played any road games. “Mickey Mouse” is often used to denigrate the COVID champions, and I think that’s too harsh, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that playing in a bubble in front of nobody is the same as the real thing.

Now in 2024, as Serbia’s preeminent horse enjoyer and his lovable band of shooters has staked a claim to be LeBron’s daddy, we would be watching one of the greatest basketball careers ever wind down with just three titles that the daytime talk show hosts would spend eons poking holes through. The idea that LeBron is on Michael Jordan’s level (six championships) or Kobe Bryant’s (five titles) would be seen as farcical by our ringzzzz-obsessed sports culture.

The Discourse would surely look back at James’s dominant stretch from 2011 to 2018 where he made eight straight NBA Finals and only see six losses, one win and one asterisked win. LeBron would be remembered the same way the 1990s Atlanta Braves were: a great player who could consistently get near the mountaintop but could almost never scale it.

Instead, Ray Allen made a shot to stave off elimination, LeBron made or assisted on every Heat field goal to win the Game 6 overtime, and then he put up 37 points and 12 rebounds in a Game 7 victory to cement his legacy as King James. Thanks to Bosh and Allen’s heroics, Miami would win two championships in a row, giving LeBron a foothold to climb his way up the ladder to the upper echelons of NBA royalty as he captured three titles in five years. Given the staggering legacies at stake between James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, I think it’s pretty clear that Ray Allen hit the biggest shot of the NBA’s 21st century.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin