Ray Allen knows his Jordans.
Yet, you’d probably expect that considering he’s the longest tenured athlete on the Jordan Brand roster. “The brand has grown significantly since when I first joined the team in the late 90s,” said Ray Allen. “A lot of people want to wear Jordan Brand in competition over anything else. The Jumpman logo has transcended basketball, and people wear it in so many different sports.” Since siding with His Airness, Ray has witnessed the creation of 15 in-line Air Jordan signature silhouettes, obtained a countless number of player exclusives and has formulated his own memorable Jordan moments along the way.
As the 2000 installment of our Olympic Diaries series, Ray Allen reflects on debuting the “Olympic” Air Jordan 6 during the 2000 Olympics, the changes he’s seen during his Jordan Brand tenure, his most important pair of Jordans, and one of his untold encounters with Michael Jordan himself.
Nice Kicks: Let’s jump straight into the 2000 Olympics. Do you remember your initial reaction when you saw and found out that you would be representing your country in the then-new “Olympic” Air Jordan 6?
Ray Allen: I was so excited because it, being a Jordan, was a shoe I never owned. During my childhood, I could never afford Jordans, but being able to play in a pair of Jordans for the Olympics just sparked my memories of watching MJ when I was growing up. The Air Jordan 6 was one of the shoes MJ wore when I closely watched him as a child, so it brought back a bunch of memories, and I was extremely excited to represent for the brand in that shoe.
Nice Kicks: Besides debuting that shoe, what is your most memorable moment from playing on the 2000 Olympic Basketball team? Let me help you out. Unlike most people, you had an in-game view of Vince Carter’s ferocious dunk on Frederic Weis.
Ray Allen: Well, the dunk was just incredible, and everyone knows that, but for me, it was participating in the Opening Ceremony that year – walking into the stadium in Sydney and actually realizing where you were. It’s like you’re in Sydney but, you’re amongst the entire world of different athletes and a high caliber of people. From a playing standpoint, that was the first time I realized that there was a lot of players that compete at a high level just like I do. Before and after games, we were getting up shots, working out on the treadmill or lifting weights. That was a ‘wow’ moment in which I realized that this is where I belong. I knew I was in the right place because we all shared like minds.
Nice Kicks: That team didn’t feature any MVPs or NBA Champions at the time either. Was there any doubt from outsiders before the Olympics began in regards to the 2000 team bringing back the gold?
Ray Allen: Being in the Olympics as an American professional basketball player was still relatively young, so there wasn’t a lot of doubt. We were a relatively young team, too, but the difference is we had guys on our team that were still in the stage of trying to prove themselves. It’s always a timing thing with the Olympics. When the Dream Team played, I think they solidified their personal careers by winning gold medals. When ’96 came, it was a new crop of young players mixed with veterans. Each year set a different precedent because it was like a passing of the torch from one team to another.