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Ray Allen talks golf, hoops, social justice on NBC Sports’ new ‘Beyond the Fairway’ podcast

Diamond Resorts Tournament Of Champions - Round One

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 16: NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen plays his shot from the 17th tee during the first round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions at Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando on January 16, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Hall of Famer Ray Allen loves golf. LOVES it. Around the league, it was considered one of the reasons he wanted to be in Miami at the end of his career — he could win on the court, and there are no “winter rules” on the golf course in South Florida.

Allen joined pro golfers Will Lowery and Doug Smith on the first episode of NBC Sports’ new “Beyond the Fairway” podcast and talked about his passion for the game, as well as the shot, back around 1998, that changed how he perceived golf.

“I was in Mexico, I was standing over — I don’t remember what course I was playing — but I was standing over, I was about 100 yards in, and there was nothing. It was a pretty forgivable fairway, so I couldn’t really hit it in the desert, it was just a matter of how close I was going to get it to the pin,” Allen said.

“I stood over that shot [and thought], I don’t know where this ball is going to go. I had a flash, a moment of brilliance, where I said, ‘this is just like basketball — if I don’t practice, I don’t know where this is going to go.’…

“I said, ‘this is the shot I need to practice all the time.’ After that, I went to the range a lot on worked on every club, every two clubs, so I knew what that club was going to do.”

Allen is a detail-oriented, driven player who loves the practice, who loves the process. We all remember Allen for his step-back three in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA finals, forcing overtime against the Spurs and changing that series. That backpedaling three was no accident — Allen had practiced it. He practiced everything.

Now Ray Allen practices golf. However, when asked why he hasn’t won The American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe or the other celebrity events, Allen said he has not practiced enough for the tournament environment. He says it’s a different kind of stress.

“I haven’t committed to the process yet,” Allen said. “As much as I play golf, committing to playing tournament golf, it’s a different animal. It’s great, and I love being in it, but I’m only doing it twice a year.”

Allen also talked about social justice and his role on that front on social media — and the pushback he gets from some people about it.

“They want me to only want me to entertain them, then they cut me off,” Allen said. “They don’t want me to have a voice, they don’t want me to be a part of their everyday life, they just want us to be in this box, to be an entertainer for them because we’re not supposed to be anything more than just basketball players. That’s it…

“Basketball is just a part of who I am, I’ve always tried to do more and be more because there’s more out in the world.”

Beyond the Fairway is something different in the podcast space: Lowery and Smith are Black professional golfers who will bring a new perspective to topics from the world of golf, plus interview celebrities such as Allen, and talk to golf influencers about their games. Give it a listen wherever you download/stream your podcasts, starting with Ray Allen and his love of the sport.