JJ Redick First Take Doc Rivers Screen grab: First Take

With Super Bowl coverage now in the rearview, ESPN’s First Take turned its attention to the NBA on Tuesday with the return of JJ Redick.

And it didn’t take long for the former shooting guard to remind everyone why he has enjoyed a rapid rise in the media ranks, as he used a discussion regarding the state of the Eastern Conference as an opportunity to take aim at Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers.

“I’ve seen the trend for years. The trend is always making excuses. Doc, we get it. Taking over a team in the middle of a season is hard,” Redick said. “It’s hard, we get it. Just like getting traded in the middle of the season is hard for a player. We get it. But it’s always an excuse. It’s always throwing your team under the bus.”

Redick went on to back up his claim with multiple examples. In addition to Rivers’ lamenting of taking over the Bucks midseason, the 15-year NBA vet pointed to the head coach’s comments following his team’s pre-All-Star break loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and revelation that he consulted the Los Angeles Clippers on their acquisition of James Harden.

“They lose to Memphis. Oh, it’s his players’ fault — Memphis was playing G-League guys and two-way guys,” Redick said. “And then you look at his quotes over the weekend and now he wants to take credit for the James Harden trade to the Clippers working out? He wants credit for that? There’s just never accountability with that guy. There’s never accountability.”

After Stephen A. Smith noted that Redick’s comments regarding Rivers were “serious,” the former Duke star made it clear he wasn’t joking.

“You can take it serious,” Redick said.

Regardless of your feelings on either subject, there are a number of interesting aspects to Redick’s comments, including that he played for Rivers for four seasons with the Clippers. While the 2006 National Player of the Year cited multiple examples of his former head coach making excuses in the last month alone, he also seems to be speaking just as much from a place of personal experience.

Speaking of broadcasting, it’s also worth noting that Rivers’ midseason hiring in Milwaukee opened the door for Redick to join Mike Breen and Doris Burke on ESPN/ABC’s top NBA team. As a result, he’ll be on the call for the NBA Finals, which — despite their current form — could conceivably include Rivers’ Bucks.

A lot of Redick’s appeal as a broadcaster has come in the form of his willingness to be brutally honest, even at the cost of protecting his relationships. Over the weekend, he took aim at the league’s inability to start its events on time — not exactly the sentiment you’d expect from a member of the NBA Finals broadcast team.

But as it turns out, that was just child’s play compared to his comments about his former head coach and predecessor in the broadcast booth.

[First Take]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.