BOSTON — During the 2008 NBA playoffs, Ray Allen boldly claimed, "Chicks dig threes."
Of course, he meant the NBA's version of the long ball, the 3-pointer, which he knows a thing or two about.
By about 9 p.m. tonight, he is expected to be the most prolific 3-point shooter of all-time when he breaks Reggie Miller's record of 2,560. He needs one trey tonight to tie the mark and two to break it.
His biggest fan, of course, will be at the TD Garden tonight when the Celtics face off with their archrival, the Los Angeles Lakers His mom, Flo Allen-Hopson.
You couldn't miss Flo if you tried. The attractive grandmother of 13 sits ... or really stands and yells incessantly near one of the hoops. Tonight she'll be wearing a white No. 20 Celtics jersey — her son's number, of course — with glitter all over it.
"You're darn right chicks dig threes," said Flo. "How can you not? It's such a great shot. I love them. I can't get enough threes ... especially when my Ray is taking them."
While it seems like she has been to every Celtics game, Flo hasn't. A few years ago she and her second husband moved to Orlando, Fla., which she now calls home.
She usually comes up for the opener and several games in between, including special moments like tonight. And, of course, she doesn't miss a playoff game in Boston.
But maybe more remarkable than Allen's astonishing amount of 3-pointers is the fact that Flo claims she has witnessed every one of them.
"In the 15 years Ray's been in the league I've never missed a game," said Flo. "DirecTV has made it a lot easier in recent years. When he was younger and playing in the NBA I thought it was important to talk to him about the game. He would know that I saw it.
"People that know me know that I don't do anything on game night. If Ray's playing, I'm home watching."
Flo, a native of Arkansas, married Allen's father when she was 17 years old while he was in the Air Force.
Allen was the middle child of the family, with an older brother and sister and two younger sisters. They moved a lot, including tours overseas in Germany and England, and Air Force bases in California and Oklahoma.
"It was really hard at times," said Flo. "We didn't have a lot of money. But being in the military environment, discipline is a part of life and it was with Ray and all of my kids. Respect was important in our family."
It was during that time, when the kids were in grade school, that basketball became a part of the Allen household. But it wasn't dad as much it was mom.
"I played on the Air Force team in the '80s and took my kids everwhere, to the games and practices," recalled Flo. "Nobody taught me the game. I taught myself. I worked hard and was the leading rebounder."
She had a nickname that fits her personality.
"The called me 'Truck,'" said Flo. "I wasn't the biggest, but I was really tough. You don't have to be big. You just have to want it."
Flo credits her son's time in college, at the University of Connecticut, with helping him become a man.
"If I was going to have my kid go somewhere at a young age, and be the same boy I raised when he left, I would want coach (Jim) Calhoun to be his guardian," said Flo. "He not only taught discipline but he genuinely cared about Ray and all of the boys he coaches. He not only coaches them, but he teaches them that there is life after basketball. I will always be indebted to him."
While her son has spent 11 of his 15 NBA seasons elsewhere — 6 1/2 seasons in Milwaukee, 4 1/2 in Seattle — she says Boston has always felt like home.
"The funny thing is the first youth team he played on was the Celtics and they wore green T-shirts," said Flo. "Then he went to UConn, where there were Celtics fans everywhere. He was hoping they'd draft him with the sixth pick, but he was taken by the Bucks with the fifth pick (Minnesota chose him and immediately traded him to Milwaukee).
"So when Danny (Ainge) put together that deal to get Ray and then get Kevin (Garnett), it was a dream coming true," said Flo. "I knew it was going to work because they were all professionals on and off the court. Boston is really home."
Flo has spent more time here than usual this year for one particular personal reason — her four-year-old grandson, Walker Reese Allen.
When Walker was a year old, he was rushed to the hospital during the Celtics-Lakers finals in 2008. It was realized then that he suffered from Type 1 diabetes, which is fatal unless treated with insulin. Then during last year's finals, again with the Lakers, another scare forced Walker to spend time in the hospital due to his diabetes.
Last year, Flo ran the Boston Marathon to benefit juvenile diabetes and the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, in her grandson's name.
She stepped it up in 2011 by starting "Ray's $3 for 3s" program (see box) in support of Joslin's High Hopes Fund. People can donate $3 for every 3-pointer her son makes over a month or the entire season. It is retroactive to the beginning of the season.
"It was the least I could do for my grandson," said Flo. "I've seen how tough it is for Ray and Shannon (his wife). Shannon constantly has to check Walker throughout the night. If his (blood sugar) levels go too low, he could slip into a coma.
"I'm really grateful that Shannon wants me around. In fact, she always wants me to stay. I would do anything for all of my children and grandchildren."
As for tonight, Flo says she is on Cloud Nine, in her regular seat near one of the baskets.
"I know Ray has been in the league for 15 years, but he plays every game like it's his first," said Flo. "When he hits those threes, it feels like I'm hitting them too.
"Even when he's on defense, I'm playing defense, too. Sometimes my elbows fly a little bit. I feel bad sometimes for the people sitting next to me. But I think they understand. I love my son."
You can e-mail Bill Burt at email@example.com.