Jeff’s Weekly Sports Rapp: Redd-y For A Return Engagement
By Jeff Rapp
(Editor’s Note: Jeff Rapp has covered Ohio State athletics since he graduated from the university more than 20 years ago. He currently serves as a voting member of the Heisman Trophy Trust and is a longstanding member of the Football Writers Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association).
It was a circus sideshow without the circus.
In fact, Michael Redd didn’t even crack a smile and his feat wasn’t met with applause. But that made it no less spectacular.
The former Ohio State star and Columbus native had agreed to a workout before representatives of the Minnesota Timberwolves last week and the Schottenstein Center, a building he helped christen, was selected as the locale.
A 6-6 lefty now known for his sharpshooting skills, Redd has not played in the NBA this season after making a comeback from two nasty knee injuries and toiling for the Phoenix Suns last year.
There is expectation of his eventual return to the top level of the game but also plenty of reason for doubt – his age (33), his injuries, time away from the league. No one would have been surprised if Redd was a little rusty as he began to flit about the court and fire up shots from all angles.
But that wasn’t the case.
Instead, Redd fired up shots from 18 to 23 feet and hit his first 33. He finally missed, made his next one, missed again, and then proceeded to rattle off 16 more bingos from long range.
For those of you scoring at home that’s 50 of 52 makes basically from the range of just inside the college three-point line to just outside the NBA arc.
“It was pretty amazing,” Johnny Clark, Redd’s longtime friend and shooting coach, told SportsRappUp. “And it wasn’t just him staying in one place getting hot. He was running up and down, cutting across the lane, catching the ball on the move, shooting off the dribble, all of that. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that.”
Clark is not easily impressed. He coached the likes of Jimmy Jackson in the old Worthington Summer League, has mentored college and NBA standouts, and worked with some of the best shooters in the Midwest. Plus, Clark, also a lefty but of a more diminutive stature, can light it up with the best of them.
But as far as he’s concerned, Redd is off the charts.
“He gets that stroke going and he just gets in an absolute zone,” Clark said. “It’s crazy to watch. I’m not sure if people still understand how good a shooter Mike is.”
Clark worked his client hard before Redd’s return to the Milwaukee Bucks a couple years ago. They did several drills together to build strength in the knee joint and lower body and they fired up shots. And shots. And shots.
Clark still recalls once feeding passes out to Redd well beyond the NCAA three-point line and the onetime Big Ten leading scorer making 49 bombs without a miss.
Maybe more amazing is knowing Redd wasn’t born a dead-eye shooter. In fact, his range and accuracy on his shot used to be in question as a budding player. Even when he was good enough to leave Ohio State a year early in 2000 and become a second-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, Redd knew he still had to work on his shooting – and that’s exactly what he did with great diligence.
The results speak for themselves.
He blossomed into an All-Star in 2004 and after misfiring on a potential game-tying three in the All-Star Game that year, he received consoling hugs from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Redd’s production continued to soar and he was selected to compete for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics, helping the Americans to a gold medal.
He logged 11 seasons in Milwaukee and, through Clark’s help, overcame a torn ACL and MCL to the point where several teams showed interest in signing. He ended up with a couple more highly accomplished veterans – Steve Nash and Grant Hill – in Phoenix and was productive off the bench.
However, his figures of 15.1 minutes, 8.2 points, and 1.5 rebounds per game were well below his career averages of 32.0 mpg, 19.0 ppg, and 3.8 rpg. Also, he shot 40.0 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from three-point range, and 79.3 percent from the free-throw line, leaving him with respective career marks of 44.7, 38.0 and 83.8.
It’s safe to say Redd can’t do it like he used to, but it’s still evident that he can help a team and that several are considering bringing him aboard. The workout for the T-Wolves wasn’t reported elsewhere because the club is trying to keep him on the backburner. Minnesota recently signed a pair of players to 10-day contracts to shore up holes in the frontcourt, but the club also would like to find an experienced off-guard.
Ditto for the Memphis Grizzlies, who just signed former Columbus Brookhaven and University of Dayton wing Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract, but are said to be very interested in Redd come playoff push.
The Chicago Bulls also have told Redd secretly that they may be calling. Speculation in the Windy City is that upper management is not happy with the play of guard Rip Hamilton.
Other teams also are expressing interest, and if Redd has another workout like he did in Columbus last week it’s hard to believe he’d remain unemployed much longer. Certainly, he could be a very valuable addition to a team in need of a veteran scorer and adept three-point shooter.
And after making $18.3 million, which was the fifth-highest salary in the NBA just two years ago, he could be obtained for a reasonable price.
Redd is back in the same situation of 2011 when it was apparent he needed to part ways with the Bucks and try to become a commodity elsewhere.
“It was a deep loyalty and a deep love for the organization and the city of Milwaukee,” Redd said two years ago. “Free agency, you never know what happens. I’m not going to try to guess.
“We’ll see what happens, but I’ve enjoyed my time here – the ups and the downs, through everything that we’ve been through. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
In the Bucks’ final home game of 2011, Redd was just 1 for 6 from the field in 14 minutes but received a warm round of applause from the Milwaukee fans. Some even chanted his name late in the game.
“It’s been a glorious 11 years,” he said afterward. “I wouldn’t trade anything. Just had a tremendous journey over these 11 years. They’ve seen me grow up, because I’ve been here since I was 20 years old. Through it all, the fans have been great, the organization’s been great to my family and it’s pretty awesome.”
Once a lightly regarded recruit while at Columbus West High School, Redd ended up being an immediate star at Ohio State and led the Big Ten in scoring as a freshman. In his sophomore season he teamed with Scoonie Penn and George Reese, along with developing talents such as Ken Johnson and Brian Brown, to guide the Jim O’Brien-led Buckeyes to the 1999 Final Four. After another outstanding season in scarlet and gray, Redd followed Penn out to the door and was taken with the 14th pick of the second round of the 2000 draft.
He then spent more time honing his game and, once again, proving his doubters wrong by developing into one of the top off-guards in the league. After making the All-Star Game in 2004 he scored at an even higher clip the following three seasons – 23.0 ppg in 2004-05, 25.4 ppg in 2005-06 and 26.7 ppg in 2006-07.
That same drive that burned in him in high school, college and the top years of his professional career was prevalent again as he tried to revive his career.
“He is a determined guy and he’s got a lot of goals, so he’s very self-motivated,” Clark said.
“But at the same time, he’s not out here doing it by himself. That’s why he contracted me to work with him, because he knows I will give him the push that he needs. The only difference with Mike is when I do push him to pick it up I can’t use the same language with him that I use with other guys. He’s a faithful guy. I am, too, but I’ll go colorful if I need to.
“Really, I don’t have to get on him much at all. The only thing I usually get on Mike about is getting some more legs into his shot at a particular time or getting arch on his shot. But I’ve never had to push him to go harder or anything like that. He’s similar to Jimmy Jackson. He goes hard.”
However, since playing in the 2008 Olympics, Redd has endured a rough stretch, playing in a total of just 112 games. He tore ligaments in his left knee in January 2009 then did it again on Jan. 10, 2010, at the Staples Center vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite proving his work ethic and returning sooner than expected the first time, Bucks management still asked Redd to progress slowly, most likely since the team already was taking shape without him.
“You know him, that he’s not afraid to work,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said at the time. “He’s proven that in his career. That’s how you go from being a second-round pick to becoming an All-Star to be playing for the U.S. Olympic team.”
In many of his workouts at The Schott, Redd simulates game situations with Clark, playing offense and defense against him. And when Redd starts putting up shots, that’s when the real show begins.
“It’s something else; It’s like a machine when he gets going,” said Clark, who estimates Redd has made as many as 77 three-pointers out of 100 attempts in past workouts.
“And he shoots the long three, too – the NBA three,” he added. “That’s what’s crazy. He’ll warm up with the college three. A lot of times people warm up from 15, 17 feet. But he’ll be out there at the college three, about 20 feet, and then go right to the NBA three and just start draining them. Mike can really shoot that thing.”
Next time, somebody bring the popcorn.
* This is the latest installment of Jeff Rapp’s Weekly Sports Rapp on The-Ozone.net. He is a regular voice on 610 WTVN in Columbus and long-time reporter covering the Buckeyes. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out more of Jeff’s work on SportsRappUp.com.