Officially retired from basketball at the age of 41, Ray Allen can now look back at his championship laced career with pride of accomplishment. His 18-year run was not only filled with rings and records, but a historic run with Jordan Brand standing as one of their longest tenured athletes. But according to Ray, that almost didn’t happen.
In a recent interview with Jarell Harris for Sports Illustrated, Allen confessed to almost signing with FILA.
“I almost ended up wearing FILA. My agent at the time tried to make me accept a check for a $100,000 but they were telling me they were going to give me a signature shoe,” Allen explained. “It was either FILA or Nike at the time and [FILA] told [me I’d get] the signature shoe for five years but the first two I had to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, steals or assists.” Allen, joining a Milwaukee Bucks squad already bolstering Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson and Vin Baker, formidable scorers in their heyday, didn’t see that as an ideal situation for him.
Nike, on the other hand, had no plans to give Ray a signature shoe like FILA potentially would, but accepting their offer to join the esteemed upstart, Jordan Brand, was just too good to pass up. “Nike came back and said well listen, if you come with us we can’t guarantee you a shoe but we are starting this new company, it is going to be called Brand Jordan and you will be one of the first athletes.”
Allen’s agent, Lee Fentress, at the time headed an agency that represented both Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse — two of FILA’s biggest signature athletes. So his push for Allen to sign with FILA and take that $100,000 check wasn’t necessarily wrong. He was forecasting the success of Grant and Stack, to great certainty in fact. But Allen’s fate was with Jordan Brand, and as we all know, that worked out pretty well for him.
Allen became one of Jordan Brand’s anchors, and has what many consider to be the best PE collection of all time. And as you would expect, Ray has no regrets in signing with Jordan Brand. Peep the full article in the link above to hear about some of Rays favorite PEs and his retirement plans.