As the Miami Heat prepared for their preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday, LeBron James wondered why Nets stars Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were so critical of Heat guard Ray Allen's choice to leave the Celtics last summer. The two were traded to Brooklyn along with Paul Pierce this summer.
"The first thing that I thought was like, 'Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston and now these guys are leaving Boston," James told the New York Daily News Wednesday. "I think it's OK. I don’t mind it, but there was a couple guys that basically (criticized) Ray for leaving and everybody else is leaving."
Dwyane Wade also came to the defense of Allen, though he called his comments a "media answer," suggesting his feelings run a little deeper. "People say things about people when they decide to do something but then people do the same thing," Wade explained. "It's about putting yourself in the best situation. It's about doing what's best for your family."
Instead of questioning Garnett, Pierce, and Terry's loyalty to Boston, as they did with Allen, James and Wade sought to point out that loyalty is a slippery concept when it comes to professional athletes.
While Pierce and Terry did not have much of a say in their trade, Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to go through. But in February, he said, "If it's up to me, I'm going to retire a Celtic."
Before the 2012-13 season, Allen turned down a more lucrative contract from the Celtics to sign a three-year deal with the Heat. In the ensuing months, Garnett said he had cut off contact with his former teammate, while Terry praised Pierce for sticking with the Celtics, in an apparent shot at Allen.
But Allen had lost his starting job in Boston and also dealt with trade rumors through the end of the 2011-12 season. He also said at the time that he dealt with "differences" with his teammates, alluding to rumors that he and Boston point guard Rajon Rondo were at odds.
If anything, James' and Wade's comments suggest that the Nets are now one of the Heat's biggest rivals, at least in terms of grudges held by each side. The two teams will play twice in the preseason and four times during the regular season, providing NBA fans with plenty of opportunities for more drama.