Advertisement

J.J. Redick experiencing NBA's highs and lows since leaving Clippers for Philadelphia 76ers

In the corner of the Philadelphia 76ers' locker room where J.J. Redick neatly hangs his designer clothes, the 33-year-old slid white leather shoes onto his feet in a bit of a hurry.

His team had just lost to Boston in overtime on Saturday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Redick committed a key turnover near the end of regulation. He was angry — and he knew he'd stay that way for hours.

Advertisement

"Then, you just got to come back ready to be the one," he said as he slid to the back.

Down 3-0 to the Celtics, Redick and the 76ers know that no team has recovered from such a deficit to win a series in NBA playoff history. But the ability to take the lows, pain that feels like an unexpected boot to the gut, and respond? That's what professionals do.

"It's the difference between guys who can survive in the NBA and those who can't. And it's the thing most people don't understand about the NBA. It's just a series of highs and lows," Redick said. "There's not much middle ground. And when you have these incredible lows, you have to be able to get up the next day, go to work and do what you need to do. It requires some mental fortitude. ...

"It's a … emotional roller coaster," he added, using an expletive.

Redick, as much as anyone in the NBA, should know about those extreme swings. After all, he came to Philadelphia after four seasons with the Clippers.

The 76ers' J.J. Redick reacts after making a three-point basket in the first quarter during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series on Saturday.
The 76ers' J.J. Redick reacts after making a three-point basket in the first quarter during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series on Saturday. (Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

Not long after the 2016-17 Clippers season ended, Redick and other key pieces who helped turn the franchise from a punchline to a postseason player were on their way out.

Chris Paul was dealt to Houston after he informed the team he wouldn't be signing a long-term deal. Redick got what he characterized as a "break-up call" from the Clippers days before the start of free agency, confirming what he had already known. Jamal Crawford was shipped out, too.

I identified Philly as the place I really wanted to be.


Share quote & link

Redick had played the best basketball of his professional career with the Clippers, becoming a full-time starter for the first time in the NBA. But the team made four straight exits from the playoffs thanks to a combination of bad luck and bad decisions, squandering precious chances to break through and win a title — or at least compete for a conference championship.

An emotionally spent group flamed out after Paul literally turned a game over to Oklahoma City in 2014. An overconfident team saw the Rockets come back from a 3-1 series deficit the following year. Then there were injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin that helped lead to first-round exits in Redick's last two seasons in L.A.

The experience dragged on Redick, who spoke of boredom with the regular season and regularly wondered why the team wasn't playing with life or joy. And then, with the highs coming less frequently, the lows seemed more and more inevitable.

While the Clippers ran into walls, Philadelphia was embarking on a taboo basketball experiment.

In the four years Redick played in Los Angeles, the 76ers lost 253 games as they stockpiled top draft picks through defeats and trades. The talent they amassed through "The Process" netted them young stars Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.

And they were ready for help.

"I identified Philly as the place I really wanted to be because I thought they had the potential to be really good because of Joel and Ben and because of how they played and passed the ball," Redick said. "Whether I started or came off the bench, it's why I wanted to come here.

Advertisement

"And in parentheses, you can write, 'And the one-year, $23-million [contract].' "

The deal made Redick the 27th-highest paid player in the league this season (paying him only $1.3 million less than Paul) and allowed him to be close to the home he and his wife designed in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia, well under the salary cap, was able to pay for Redick's experience and mentoring — and more.

J.J. Redick played his best basketball during four seasons with the Clippers, but the team couldn't get over the hump.
J.J. Redick played his best basketball during four seasons with the Clippers, but the team couldn't get over the hump. (John Raoux / Associated Press)

"Everyone said, 'veteran leadership, veteran leadership veteran leadership.' I was like, 'I still feel like I can play,' " Redick said.

He's the team's second-leading scorer in the postseason at 20.1 points a game, a hair behind Embiid (21.5), following a career-best 17.1 points a game in the regular season.

According to BasketballReference.com's Play Index, only 48 players in league history played in enough games to qualify and averaged 17.1 points or more at Redick's age. And, of those 48, all except for Redick had previously averaged more.

"It's been a pretty simple formula. Being very diligent in season and out of season, being in situations where I was afforded opportunities to let it fly and because of that, I think, you just get better," he said. "You can say, 'Well I got better every year,' but why? That's because of the work, the diligence — every year I'm getting smarter. I'm getting better because I'm getting smarter."

Sometimes, you just need fresh scenery. You need something new.


Share quote & link

His play helped reinvigorate Philadelphia's love of basketball, which had been tested through all the losing and processing.

"Don't let me minimize his impact. He's just come in, doing what he does and doing it very well. He's a veteran. He's a man, a dad. He's been around the league for a while," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "He lives an elite lifestyle. He's in incredible shape. He's very prideful of his preparation. I can go on and on and on.

"He's A-plus."

Regardless of how things go Monday in Game 4, regardless of another round of free agency to come, Redick's exit from Los Angeles helped him find joy in his work again. He went through a down and it was time for an up.

"It's not even close. Not even close," he said. "This was a much-needed year for me. I think it revitalized my spirit. It was truly a pleasure just to go to work every day and just clock in …

"Sometimes, you just need fresh scenery. You need something new."

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports

Advertisement
Advertisement