Hated the dude.
Could. Not. Stand. Him.
Playing for Duke, the ultimate in college basketball elitism, from its coach to its fan base to its success, J.J. Redick fit the mold all too well:
Everything in life had fallen his way. Plus, he was good on the court to boot – special dispensation from officials (a staple for all Blue Devils) or not.
So good that he was named a McDonald’s All-American in high school and later national player of the year while serving at Coach K’s altar.
Ugh. A Dookie. An ultimate one at that.
Then he was drafted No. 11 in the 2006 draft … and settled into a decent, non-annoying pro career that seemed to clean the prim-and-proper, pampered and overrated Duke stench off of him.
So, wasn’t exactly disappointed when the 76ers targeted him, and then signed him as a free agent this past offseason. In fact, if anything, was a big proponent of the move. The team, even with the promise of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, needed a shooter. A big-time one.
It got one in Redick.
That being said, had no idea he would impact The Process as much as he has – sometimes subtly and sometimes neon-bright obviously.
Count the just-completed five-game, first-round run of the Miami Heat among the latter. After averaging a career-best 17.1 points per game in the regular season, he's upped that to 20 ppg in the postseason, including an uber-clutch, game-high 27 in Tuesday night's closeout victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Yo, the dude, the freakin’ Dookie, was money in three of the victories – Games 1, 4 and 5 – and even when he was off with his shooting, honestly, got no complaints with what he gave the team.
Heady, smart, intense play backed by all-out effort.
He arrived in Philly with “experts” picking at his defensive deficiencies. They needn’t bother anymore. The guy is a professional on both ends of the floor. He’s not just a shooter. He can play. All day.
Put it this way: He’s gonna give the Sixers everything he has every time he steps out. This return to the East Coast was no mere money grab.
Thing is, even when he’s not hitting shots from distance, Redick has shown not only a desire to get to the rack, but a desire to do so. He’s also setting screens for teammates like a madman, and going all-out, balls-out on defense. Is he a first-team All-NBA defender? No. Is he a bad defender, as his rep stated he was? Hell, no. He’s actually pretty damn good.
Of course, his importance to the Sixers is most realized by that sweet, right-handed stroke.
Here is what yours truly has learned with that:
- If he’s on, the Sixers are probably going to win.
- If he’s on, and, say, Marco Belinelli, is on as well, they’re probably going to win big.
- If he’s on, Belinelli is, too, and either Dario Saric or Robert Covington is as well, just forget it, game over.
Amazing the impact a formerly hated Dookie can have.
On a team, and a person’s take on him.