When Ray Allen broke Reggie Miller's record for the most three-pointers made in NBA history on Thursday, it came off as a career achievement award for a great shooter more than any sort of sacred mark falling. And that's to be expected: Few knew 2,560 was the standard for three-point shooters. Few numbers in the NBA really hold much historic value, and the three-pointer didn't come around until 1979. Lots of people could have guessed Miller held the record before Allen's assault, but it's unlikely many fans knew.
As such, for me, the chase really served as a reminder that Ray Allen is one incredible player.
Think about how quickly Allen reached 2,560 in comparison to Miller.
It took Ray 1,074 games to beat a mark Miller set in 1,389 games. That's almost four seasons worth of games. Mind you, Allen entered a league falling in love with the three-pointer. In Miller's early days, the three-pointer remained exotic and, relatively speaking, rare. In Miller's rookie season, the average NBA team took 410 three-pointers a season. Last year, teams took an average of 1,487.
Miller was really the first great three-pointer of the league. Other stars (Larry Bird, notably) hit lots of long jumpers, but by mid-career Miller was taking twice as many threes per season than Bird ever had. Miller was Michael Adams, but good! (Adams, a journeyman gunner, was the first NBA player to break the 300, 400 and 500 three-point attempts in a season barrier. He shot a career 33 percent on threes. He was Antoine Walker before Antoine Walker.)
And just as Miller used the rise of the three-pointer to build a career upon, Allen used the still-rising three-pointer to turn him into a legit star. Both will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame -- Miller is eligible this year, and if no other reason than his class is shallow, he'll be in on the first ballot -- but Allen is going to finish his career with a seriously spectacular ledger. He has a legit claim as the greatest shooter in NBA history, and remains in the top 50 in points per game all-time. Ten All-Star berths, two All-NBA honors, (at least) one NBA championship. What a player.
In heralding the Boston Celtics for being greater than the sum of their parts, we might very well just be underrating their parts. Allen, especially, is a victim of this -- he was the first to be pushed aside in the world's eye when Rajon Rondo ascended, and even still is the All-Star question mark among the team's core. But Ray Allen is fantastic, and has always been fantastic. Even if the record he broke Thursday means little to most of the basketball world, at least it reminds us what a truly special played Allen has been.