Did you go to Duke? No? Then there’s is a pretty good chance that you or someone you know, at one time or another, has hated J.J. Redick. During his college career, from 2002-2006, he was the best shooter in the nation and a lightning rod for scorn. Of course he was — he rained 3s, taunted crowds, quoted scripture to himself at the free throw line, and wrote poetry in his spare time.
Back in 2006, SportsCenter ran a special six-minute segment about how everyone hated him. He was referred to as “the new Christian Laettner, just shorter and with more range.” In 2004, Maryland fans chanted, “Fuck you, J.J.!” as he came to the free throw line. At the same game, Redick said, a fan held up a sign insinuating that they’d had sex with Redick’s at-the-time 12-year-old sister. NC State fans chanted that his brother was gay. And signs like this one were things that actually happened:
The vitriol was so ubiquitous that someone scored Redick’s Duke highlights to classic Nas joint, “Hate Me Now,” and it made perfect sense.
Soon after Redick was drafted, though, the hate began to dissipate. It’s no fun to hate a guy who doesn’t play, and Redick appeared in only 76 games and played less than 1,000 minutes in his first two seasons in Orlando.
Even in limited appearances, he never lost his ability to knock down outside shots. He shot 39 percent from 3 in those first two seasons. And under Stan Van Gundy’s tutelage, Redick expanded his game to include more than just spot-ups and catch-and-shoots generated by snaking around a series of pin-down screens. He worked hard, got better, and forced his way into the rotation through sheer will.
In college, Redick was a superstar who operated mostly as a long-range sniper, rarely looking to create for others. As he saw more and more floor time in Orlando, he began to be used increasingly as a secondary ball handler — running the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard or Ryan Anderson after receiving a kickout pass from the likes of Jameer Nelson. His per-36 minutes assist totals, as well as his assist percentage, rose with each passing year (with the exception of the 2010-11 campaign, when he battled injury issues), to the point where he assisted on 20 percent of teammate baskets during the 2012-13 season, a number matched or exceeded by only 15 other non–point guards.
As Redick’s game changed, so did how the public perceived him. In college, he was the embodiment of what made everyone hate Duke. Now he’s considered a consummate role player who consistently makes his teams better.
Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul have all sung his praises over the last year, and Redick was singled him out by Stan Van Gundy at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2013 as a player who could always be counted on to make the correct rotation. That’s a far cry from the player who couldn’t get on the court early in his career because he was such a defensive liability.
Leveraging his assets for good, Redick’s even done some instructional shooting videos over the last few years. They’re the type of videos where people leave comments like “he has the perfect shot” and “no matter what shot it is he manages to keep the same up and down form and release,” both of which are totally true.
Redick’s become such a beacon for the Duke ethos that Coach K apparently showed an inspirational video that detailed Redick’s accomplishments and work ethic to the Blue Devils in the summer of 2012 to set an example for his players to follow.
After he was sign-and-traded to the Clippers last summer, Redick quickly quashed his decadelong beef with Chris Paul over the phone.
A month or so later, he sat down with Benjamin Clymer — executive editor of Hodinkee, one of the most popular and widely read watch publications in the world — to talk extensively about his watch collection (which includes an FP Journe Chronomètre Bleu, which, DAMN, J.J. can you hook a brother up?), his first watch (a Rolex Datejust), how he got into collecting (after buying an Audemars Piguet Safari model when he got his second NBA contract), which watches are his favorites (the aforementioned Safari), his personal style preference (no bigger than a 42-millimeter face, and classic, “romantic” style), his most recent purchase (a Patek Philippe Geneve he copped after getting that Clipper money and which I can’t even find an official picture of), and his dream watch (Patek Phillipe 5970, which was recently given a 97 rating by Clymer himself over at AskMen and which costs as much as a freaking Porsche 911 Turbo).
I remember watching that video last fall and just being like, “Holy shit, is J.J. Redick cool?” That was unthinkable to me back in 2006, but here we are. Redick is an integral part of a Finals contender, contributing with more than just his outside shot, and a well-respected veteran who seems pretty much like an all-around good dude. Crazier things have probably happened, but I’m not sure what they are.