As Kobe Bryant goes from arena to arena to be honored while the Lakers lose again and again, basketball superstar Ray Allen is quietly starting a new restaurant in Miami. The differences are striking — as are some of the similarities. While no one is arguing that Allen is as accomplished a player as Bryant, the former was certainly worthy of some fanfare as his career came to an end. Yet Ray Allen — unlike Kobe Bryant — just quietly slipped away, with the same dignity that he displayed as a player and a person throughout his career.
Allen and Bryant were both drafted in 1996 and their careers had been coterminous until this year. (Bryant is the LA guy, but it’s Allen who found work as a part-time movie star.) Ray Allen won two NBA championships to Bryant’s five. And Allen was an All-Star just ten times — to Bryant’s 18. But Allen leaves the NBA having made more three-pointers than any other player in history. True, Ray Allen is no Kobe Bryant — for better and for worse — but that a player of such accomplishment can just slip quietly away is surprising. It’s the opposite of Bryant’s long farewell tour — and it’s a refreshing contrast. In 2003 Allen won the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity.”