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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] NBA Great Ray Allen Shares Love of the Game with Fans

On a visit to Tokyo during the NBA Finals, the Basketball Hall of Fame inductee interacted with fans and shared helpful pointers at a clinic in Shibuya.

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Two-time NBA champion Ray Allen holds an exact replica of the Larry O'Brien Trophy during a visit to Tokyo on June 15, 2024. (©NBA)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] NBA Great Ray Allen Shares Love of the Game with Fans

It's not an everyday occurrence that a two-time NBA champion speaks to fans in Tokyo.

Which is why Ray Allen's promotional visit to the Japanese capital was a rare treat for basketball aficionados who got to hear his perspective on the sport ― and soak up his knowledge on improving as a player, too.

Allen appeared in exactly 1,300 NBA regular-season games in a successful career that spanned from 1996 to 2014. Along the way, he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, winning NBA Finals titles with the Celtics in 2008 and Heat in 2013.

An exact replica of the NBA Finals trophy, officially known as the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, accompanied Allen on his goodwill visit to Tokyo, which included a stop at the Japan men's national team's training camp on Friday, June 14.

NBA
Ray Allen (front, center) poses for a commemorative photo with the Japan national team at a training camp session on June 14 in Tokyo (©NBA)

Advice for Japan's National Team

During his visit to watch a Japan men's national team practice session on Friday, Allen issued a challenge to head coach Tom Hovasse's players as they prepare for tuneup games before the Paris Olympics.

In doing so, Allen offered some perspective from his own career. He suited up for the gold medal-winning United States squad at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  

"I am still proud of the fact that I have competed for my country," Allen told the players. "Past numbers and rankings don't matter. The greatest respect for your opponent is to fight to the best of your ability."

A motivational question followed.

"What does each of you have to do for the team?" he asked.

"I want you to have the desire to improve even by one percent, cherish each and every day, and continue to grow until the final match," the retired NBA icon said. "All you have to do now is to prove yourself on the court. I wish you the best of luck."

NBA
Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen is seen during his goodwill visit in Tokyo for the 2024 NBA Finals. (©NBA)

Allen Shares Insights on His NBA Career

On Saturday, June 15, Allen attended an NBA Finals viewing party in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, as the Dallas Mavericks thumped the visiting Celtics 122-84 in Game 4 to stave off elimination. Allen participated in an outdoor basketball clinic for students, ranging from elementary school age to age 18. And he also spoke with reporters after the clinic.

Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star, who averaged 18.9 points per game in his career, shared some thoughts on the importance of practice.

"What I'm trying to focus on is keeping myself in good condition," the University of Connecticut legend said. "When I get tired, I tend to take shortcuts to make it less difficult.

"The way you use your body in basketball and in your personal life is completely different. It is important to keep yourself in good condition so that you can play basketball using muscles that you don't normally use without getting tired."

NBA
Ray Allen watches one of the student participants in a basketball clinic in Shibuya on June 15. (©NBA)

An NBA Icon Accentuates Positivity

In keeping with his reputation as an upbeat player throughout his NBA career, Allen reminded the clinic participants to encourage one another during games and practices.

That positive teamwork, he insisted, is a building block of success.

Allen provided a vivid example, pointing out that a simple congratulatory gesture is a good thing.

"Hey guys, do you know how important the high-five is?" Allen asked the enthusiastic players. "There is also data that shows that teams that do the high-five have a higher chance of winning.

"So if a kid on your team makes a good play, please give them a high-five. Let's also end today's meeting with a high-five."

The players gathered together around Allen.

What happened next?

A unified high-five, of course, with a chant that the onlookers and participants will easily remember decades from now.

"One, two, three, NBA!"

It was an appropriate, fun closing moment at the NBA clinic.

Continue reading the full story, which includes additional reporting on basketball along with news items on surfing, tennis and more, on SportsLook.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven