Ray Allen has spent thousands of hours alone in a gym, practicing his shot, and when all of the hard work came to fruition what he wanted most of all was to share the honor.
With his family.
With his teammates.
With Reggie Miller, who was working courtside on the TV broadcast when Allen broke his NBA record for 3-pointers on Thursday night.
"Somebody told me, 'This is your moment. Enjoy it.' And I'm sitting there thinking I've never really had a moment that's mine," Allen said after hitting three 3-pointers against the Los Angeles Lakers to move to the top of the NBA's all-time list. "I've always shared it with guys. ... I've never had a time where I've had to stand out there and say 'Thank you,' because it really was about me."
Allen hit his second 3 of the game with 1:48 left in the first quarter to reach 2,561 in his career — a number that flashed on the scoreboard in green and white while the TD Garden erupted in applause.
The 35-year-old Celtic celebrated little as he got back on defense, but at the next whistle went over to Miller for a hug and a handshake, then bumped fists with Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
"I'm just so happy for him because this is one of the best guys," Miller said on the TNT broadcast. "He's so humble, he's so giving, he's a great family man and I'm excited. This is great. This is great for the game of basketball. You know why? We're focusing and talking about shooting."
The record-breaker came on a transition basket from the right side on a pass from Rajon Rondo. The sold-out crowd at the TD Garden — the visit by the rival Lakers would have been enough for that — cheered, and his teammates rose out of their seats.
"If I could have hidden, I would have," Allen said. "I almost felt a little embarrassed because there was so much attention surrounding this 3-point record. And I've never really experienced that because this is a team sport; very rarely do you get that emotional individual support. So it was so overwhelming, but it was a great moment. I'll remember this for the rest of my life."
After the quarter ended, Allen exchanged a few words and another hug with Miller, then went down the sideline to receive his family's congratulations. Allen made one more in the game to finish two ahead Miller, but the Boston Celtics lost the NBA finals rematch 92-86.
"I told him, 'I'm glad you're here, because it is your moment as well,'" Allen said. "When we came in the league, Allen Iverson, myself, all the guys in my class that came in ... Reggie was the shooting guard who we were out there competing against and trying to beat. It was a privilege to play alongside and play against him. To do this, and beat his record, and have him in the building — I wouldn't have it any other way."
A 6-foot-5 guard from Connecticut, Allen is the No. 25 scorer in league history, finishing the night with 21,875 points in a 15-year career with Milwaukee, Seattle and Boston. He is already the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made per game since the shot was introduced in 1979, with an average of 2.4.
"He's just a machine," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "He shoots every day. He works on it. He runs every day. You look at his body. If you're a young player just look at Ray Allen if you want a long career. He's the ultimate pro."
Allen got to the record a little faster than Miller, needing 6,430 shots to reach the record — a rate of 39.8. Miller took 6,486 shots from 3-point range in his 18-year career with the Indiana Pacers, making 39.5 percent.
Allen said beforehand he had unexpected trouble sleeping on Wednesday night, with the combined anticipation of an NBA finals rematch against the archrival Lakers and the chance to break the record.
"For the fans, I'm sure it's sweet. But for me, I'm truly happy for Ray," Bryant said. "That's just unbelievable."
Allen entered the season needing 117 to pass Miller, and he entered the night needing one to tie and two for the record. With the crowd cheering in anticipation every time he got the ball beyond the arc, he missed his first attempt and then made his second, from the top of the key.
Allen gave a fist pump while teammate Nate Robinson raised one finger in the air. The next time down, Paul Pierce passed Allen the ball on the left side and he fired up another shot that, to the crowd's dismay, went off the rim. He missed the next try, too, but then got the record on his fifth 3-point attempt of the game.
"It's some, more history, the Lakers and Celtics," Los Angeles forward Ron Artest said with a smile. "He chose to wait and do it against us. He did it on purpose. He waited and waited 'til he played against the Lakers. He's smart. Good marketing plan."