There is no question that Ray Allen is arguably the finest three-point shooter to ever grace a hardwood [with due respect to Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Drazen Petrovic, Dennis Scott, and Stephen Curry]. In Nigerian Basketball, Chamberlain Oguchi’s name is just as synonymous to the artistry of squaring up behind the arc, having established himself as a maestro in that area. So it was no surprise that Allen’s retirement a few days ago elicited a heartfelt tribute from Nigeria’s finest three-point artist.
When Allen announced his retirement from professional basketball on November 1, 2016, Oguchi penned a glowing tribute to honor the NBA legend:
“Those that know my game and/or my work ethic know how much Ray Allen [@trayfour] has influenced both. Hours a day spent practicing 3-pointers until my arms cramped. Analyzing every aspect in the art of shooting, and countless wind sprints… all in the name of “trying to be like Ray Ray”. Secretly, having the opportunity to get to know you, and compete with/against you was one of the highlights of my career. Your humility was amazing to see. In a game where shooting has become a lost art, I want to take this time to thank you for not only inspiring a kid like me, but for your contribution to the game of basketball as well. A job well done sir.” – Oguchi
Oguchi is a quintessential three-point shooter and a living legend in Nigerian basketball by all standards, having led Nigeria to its first African title on his shooting prowess, while earning individual laurels for the Best Three Point Shooter and Most Valuable Player at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship. Oguchi is also a two-time Olympian, helping Nigeria to its first ever Olympic appearance at the London 2012 Games, and a consecutive appearance at the Rio 2016 Games.
Oguchi, 30, currently plays professionally with the Gran Canaria Basketball Club in Mexico. His exemplary three-point shooting ability is his most potent skill a la Ray Allen, the now retired NBA legend.
Allen announced his retirement via The Players’ Tribune on November 1, 2016 in a note titled “Letter to My Younger Self” while detailing some of the sacrifices that made him a maestro in a special class; excerpts:
“… in order to achieve your dreams, you will become a different kind of person. You’ll become a bit obsessive about your routine. This will come at a heavy cost to some of your friends and family.
Most nights, you won’t go out. Your friends will ask why. You won’t drink alcohol, ever. People will look at you funny. When you get to the NBA, you won’t always play cards with the boys. Some people will assume you’re not being a good teammate. You’ll even have to put your family on the back-burner for your job.”
Ray Allen was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick of the 1996 NBA Draft and was immediately traded, along with Andrew Lang, to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Stephon Marbury, a point guard and fourth selection of the 1996 NBA Draft on draft night. Allen, a University of Connecticut alumnus. Allen was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1996. While in Milwaukee, Allen won the 3-point shootout during the 2001 NBA All Star, was selected to the All-NBA Third Team, and led the Bucks, alongside Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson, to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost in seven games to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Allen was traded to the now-defunct Seattle Supersonics midway through 2002-03, along with Ronald Murray, Kevin Ollie, and a conditional first round draft pick, in exchange for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. While with the Bucks, Allen scored a career-high 54 points on January 12, 2007 against the Utah Jazz in a 122-114 overtime win. On June 28, 2007, Allen was traded, along with Glen Davis and the 35th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and Jeff Green. The Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves, shortly after Allen joined the team, to team-up with Paul Pierce. Allen won his first NBA Championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics in six games, while tying an NBA Finals record of seven three-pointers to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92.
Allen joined the Miami Heat in 2012 after turning down a two-year $12 million offer, accepting a three-year deal from the Heat instead. The highlight of Allen’s career with the Heat came in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, while the Heat trailed by three points. Allen made a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, sending the game to an overtime and winning 103-100 to get a Game 7. The Heat won 95-88 to win its second consecutive championship, while Allen won his second NBA Championship in the process.
Off the basketball court, Allen had a starring role, alongside Denzel Washington, in Spike Lee’s movie, He Got Game, where he was casted in the character of Jesus Shuttlesworth. The movie earned him the nickname ‘Jesus’ among basketball fans. Allen once disclosed that he has a borderline condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he attributes for his consummate shooting style.