As a shooter, you always believe your next shot is going in. That mentality served JJ Redick well as a college star at Duke and during his 15-year career in the NBA. The ESPN analyst is in his second year with the network, and he feels confident he’s improving.
Redick will be the color commentator for Game 1 of Saturday afternoon’s Eastern Conference playoff matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. For a guy who appeared in 110 playoff games, you’d think the transition to broadcasting playoffs would be smooth. Redick said it was anything but when he started that last year, though.
“I felt very, just like taking it all in, overwhelmed,” he said on a media conference call Thursday. “This year, I felt like I got into a good rhythm and really understood the process.”
Redick, 38, is a rising star. His fresh observations and brash opinions have gotten him noticed. He has been a spark plug as an analyst and during his appearances on First Take. That makes you wonder what he would do differently about traditional NBA game broadcasts.
But as Redick pointed out, the pace of the game makes it harder to implement major changes, as opposed to baseball or even football.
“A lot of what I think would be enriching, you frankly don’t have time for because the game moves too fast,” he said. “You don’t have 25 to 30 seconds to talk between plays. You don’t have 25 to 30 seconds to show replays. So, you get in what you can and that’s the difficulty and that’s the challenge. And that’s what makes our producers and directors at ESPN so good is that they do a good job of that. I wish we could do it more. I just don’t think you have time for it in our sport.”
Redick said he has offered some ideas to David Roberts, ESPN’s Head of NBA and Studio production.
“I love what they do on NFL Live,” Redick said. “Those guys do a great job of breaking down. If we could do more of that with our coverage, I think that would be great for the fan.”
Having more insights on strategies, breakdowns of players and a better understanding of salary-cap ramifications is always a good thing for the hardcore NBA fan. ESPN has a wealth of talented people, including Redick, who could provide additional information.
Many of these details are valuable for NBA coverage and spark interest when the playoffs begin. Teams have more time to game-plan for specific tendencies for players and teams. It seems like many fans would welcome a nuanced interpretation of what exactly that means.
One of Redick’s best skills is his frankness. ESPN would be wise to use him to his full capacity.
During the conference call, Redick shared an anecdote about how quickly things can change in the playoffs. In his second season in the NBA, he appeared in only 34 regular-season games for the Orlando Magic.
“We were down probably 11 at the end of the third quarter in Toronto,” he said of the 2008 first-round playoff series. “It was the one game they won in that series, and Stan [Van Gundy]’s like, ‘You’re in,’ and, I mean, I barely played that whole season. I’m like, ‘All right,’ so I go to the scorer’s table. We’re looking up at the clock, counting down from a minute, waiting to get into the action, ready to go and Stan walked over to me, and he goes, ‘Don’t try and be a hero,’ and I’m like, ‘All right. All right. Thanks, guy.'”
[Photo of Redick on ESPN College GameDay in March 2022 from Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images]