Ray Allen: Before he was beating the Lakers, he was acting the part to perfection
It feels like Ray Allen has been sinking three-point shots since Andrew Bynum was in diapers, but none of them were bigger than the ones the incomparable Boston Celtics guard made in the first half of the NBA Finals game last night, leading the Celtics -- yeah, my Celtics -- to a huge 103-94 victory over the Lakers. (Allen's eight three-pointers were an NBA Finals record.)
But Allen's first-half shooting blitzkrieg reminded me that for all the celebrities in attendance in the courtside seats at the Staples Center, Allen was the only guy playing in the game itself who could say that he'd co-starred in a movie with Denzel Washington -- and gotten just as many good reviews as the Oscar winner himself.
It's been so long that it's easy to forget that when Spike Lee made "He Got Game," an edgy 1998 basketball morality tale about a budding high school star who can help get his dad out of prison if he signs with the right college, it was Allen, then a 22-year-old second-year player with the Milwaukee Bucks who played the part of the young star. Lee doesn't romanticize basketball like most of today's ESPN commentators do. In fact, the movie paints a pretty grim picture of what a corrupt business the game has become.
But Allen's presence in the film gives it some serious authenticity. And he was rewarded with a raft of good reviews, with no less of an authority than Roger Ebert saying that Allen is "that rarity, an athlete who can act." Even at 34, which is almost senior-citizen-hood by NBA standards, Allen can also still take over a game, as he did in the first half last night, pulverizing the Lakers with three points from everywhere but the scorer's table. If you can't bear to watch the Lakers take it on the chin back in Boston, rent "He Got Game," which is hardly an uplifting tale but offers a thought-provoking perspective on how much innocence we've lost from our favorite childhood games.
Photo: Ray Allen, left, making life difficult for Kobe Bryant as the Celtics beat the Lakers 103-94 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images