MIAMI (AP) — Ray Allen was wearing a pair of ski goggles to protect his eyes from the spray of champagne in the Miami Heat locker room last week, and assessed what it was like to be part of another NBA championship celebration.
"It feels right," Allen said. "This feels right."
He's hoping things stay that way next season.
Quickly tying up a loose end for the Heat, Allen exercised his $3.2 million player option Friday to remain with the club next season, when Miami will aim for a third straight NBA title.
He wound up playing a huge role for Miami in this year's title run, especially by hitting what he described as the biggest shot of his career — a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of the NBA Finals against San Antonio, forcing overtime and saving the season.
Teammates, coaches and the Heat front office all made it very clear to Allen that he was wanted back for next season, with Udonis Haslem even stressing that to him as the team showered following the celebration that followed Game 7.
Allen left Miami following the end-of-season team meeting on Tuesday without giving the organization an answer, though didn't keep people waiting much longer. He could have elected to become a free agent and wound up getting more years and more money in a new deal, and decided to stay with the Heat anyway.
And after this playoff run, he's already part of team lore.
The Heat were down by three in the final moments of Game 6, and the Spurs were moments away from celebrating a title. Chris Bosh got an offensive rebound and passed the ball to Allen, who was simultaneously stepping back to the 3-point line near the right corner of the floor.
With no time to waste, Allen — the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history — let the shot fly, and it went through with a perfect swish. The Heat wound up winning in overtime.
"There were so many moments down the stretch that allowed that shot to happen, and just incredible," Allen said at the team's parade this week. "So after Game 7, I have to say that is the biggest shot I've ever hit in my career."
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