An evening with Ray Allen
Allen reminisces about his youth, time at UConn and in the NBA
Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
Ray Allen, one of the greatest players in UConn basketball history, returned to campus Thursday night for "An Evening with Ray Allen," a lecture at Jorgensen.
Currently on hiatus from his day-job due to the ongoing NBA lockout, Ray Allen arrived on stage to a standing ovation.
"One of my proudest moments is to be back at UConn and speaking with y'all," he said, flashing his championship ring to the crowd. "Everyone knows the image of ‘Ray Allen' they see on TV, but 16 years ago I was in the same seats as you."
Allen brought on stage assistant coach Kevin Ollie, and the two reminisced about attending UConn in the 1990s.
"That was before we had Hilltop apartments," said Ollie. "I remember when we saw Notorious B.I.G. out on the football field," said Allen.
"UConn has always been about faith, friends and family," Ollie said. "Coach Calhoun brought me to the university from 3,000 miles away. He has always been faithful to the basketball family and greater UConn community."
"While we were both living in Southern California, I was watching Kevin play and he didn't even know," Allen said. "The admiration I have for his game and his work ethic were part of the reason I chose to come to UConn. Kevin had to work his hardest to get into the NBA, playing in the Development League and overseas. Witnessing his motivation helped me to avoid becoming complacent."
Allen then recounted the hectic story of his selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves and subsequent trade to the Milwaukee Bucks, switching hats with Stefan Marbury but not incurring Marbury's increase in salary.
"I still tell him he owes me $200K," Allen said, laughing.
Allen spent seven seasons with the Bucks, earning three playoff appearances and five with the Seattle Sonics, where he made another postseason bid.
"I remember being very excited that we were going to draft Kevin Durant," he said about the star player for the franchise now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder. "A few hours later I got the call. As the Dropkick Murphy's so appropriately put it: ‘I was shipping up to Boston,'" he imparted to thunderous applause.
"I've never had a sip of alcohol in my life," Allen declared to a disbelieving crowd. "We athletes are sports cars that run on high octane fuel – some of you are the SUVs taking us the distance," he joked. He told a story of his high school teammates telling him that he would become an alcoholic when he encountered the college party scene.
"When I was 18, my friends took me to Huskies for the first time – I shouldn't have been there," he said. "Someone put down a pitcher of beer, handed me a cup, and said ‘dig in,' but I looked at my cup and all I could hear were the voices of my old teammates…Alcoholism was also prevalent on the military reserves I grew up on."
Allen remarked on how he came into the league into the NBA with a stellar class that included Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, and his initial prospectus was ‘Player Most Likely to Fade into Obscurity.'
"It's important to take negative energy, cook it, eat it and turn it into something positive that motivates you," he said. "My Celtics teammates and I practice the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which emphasizes that an individual can improve only if the entire community rises with him."
Urging students to take the reins on campus during this time of uncertain future, Allen concluded his lecture by emphasizing: "Students' integrity of life is in how much they maintain and expand this university."