Here at Bounce, we appreciate the style/substance combination. This season, there are a few pro and college cats that will be fighting their way back from injury or other circumstances, players who possess the swagger, skills and “IT” quality that make you shiver in your seat when they’re playing their game at full capacity. One such player, who I’m itching to see back at full strength, is the Bucks’ Michael Redd.
To be quite honest, there’s a Love/Hate element that exists here. I’ve never truly forgiven Michael Redd for giving St. John’s the bizness in the 1999 Elite Eight with his 20 points and stellar play, which, for all intents and purposes, signified the end of the Red Storm’s relevance. As Ohio State marched into the Final Four, the St. John’s legacy, inclusive of the remarkable college accomplishments of Louie Carnesecca, Chris Mullin, Willie Glass, Malik Sealy, the McGuire boys, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson, Felipe Lopez and Ron Artest, among others, staggered into oblivion.
But despite my hometown bias, “Game Recognize Game”, as they say. I could not help but be enamored with Redd who, despite not having supreme explosiveness or upper-tier athleticism, proved himself to be a remarkable perimeter weapon, a scoring threat of epic proportions. The foot speed and first step may not have been jaw-dropping, but the lightning quick, smooth lefty release, followed by the inevitable splash of the net, has always been appreciated by students of the game. I’ve always referred to the cat as “The Smooth Operator.”
The great thing about Redd was that, despite being the Big 10 Player of the Year as a junior and a great college player, he had to scrape, fight and earn his props, something the playground culture respects and admires. He was picked in the second round of the 2000 draft, the 43rd selection.
Coming into Milwaukee, he paid his dues in practice against Sugar Ray Shuttlesworth and The Big Dog. He rarely played as a rookie, but knocked 44% of his three’s coming off the bench as a super sub during his second season. As a third year player, he announced his arrival as a scorer with elite-level potential by knocking in eight fourth-quarter three’s against the Rockets.
By his fourth year in the league in ‘03-’04, with Ray Allen having moved on to the Sonics, Redd proved that he was officialy legit. He quietly put together a superb resume, despite the lack of national adoration, limelight or acclaim. While LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, Chris Paul and Melo and others were synonymous with the 2008 Redeem Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Redd was the squad’s deadliest, most consistent perimeter threat.
The unfortunate knee injuries of the past two years have kept him on the shelf. This year, those of us who know what time it is eagerly anticipate his return. The prognosis is not promising. Many believe that he’s played his last meaningful pro game, that the back-to-back, devastating ACL and MCL injuries have expedited his retirement.
I’d like to see the cat on the wing in this year’s playoffs, being fed by Brandon Jennings, opening up the floor for Andrew Bogut and adding to the exciting growth taking place with the Bucks franchise.
Despite the emotional harm he inflicted on me back in ‘99, I’m amped to see him prove the doubters wrong one last time by coming back to do what he does best. And that’s getting buckets, while looking pretty and smooth doing it.
And I’ll be the first – when he’s back to being the player that his peers and aficionados respect and admire, going off for one of his patented BOOM-Michael Redd-Explosions – to holler, “Don’t Call It A Comeback!”