Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Legacy of Michael Redd

Begrudgingly or not most sports fans admit that they feel like other forces are sometimes at work in their favorite sports. Be it the legendary “Curse of the Bambino” in Boston or “The ball don’t lie ref” after a player shoots a free throw on a questionable call in basketball. I’ve heard announcers over the years admonish players for excessive celebration and refer to the gods of sport as keepers of the game. The John McGlocklin’s and Bob Uecker’s have often times said stuff like, “the basketball/baseball gods will take care of him for that”. And it’s those kinds of lines that have me thinking right now. Do the gods of sport really keep track of legacies? Do they know what records could be forever tarnished? The timing and ensuing circumstance of Michael Redd’s injury seem very important to me. Have the basketball gods intervened to make sure Michael Redd does not become too prominent a figure in Milwaukee Bucks lore?

Currently Redd sits at 11,295 points. That sits him 5th in Bucks history between Bob Dandridge and Marques Johnson. He would have needed only 716 points the rest of the season (roughly 21 points per game) to leapfrog Glenn Robinson for the number 2 spot in franchise history. With 2 years left on a difficult to move contract, and only 2200 more points needed after netting the second spot on the all time list, it’s easy to think had he not have gotten hurt this year Michael Redd had a very good chance at becoming the all time leading scorer in Milwaukee Bucks history. That means two hundred years from now when someone from a planet far away from here finds a Milwaukee Bucks media guide from 2012 it very easily could have listed Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s name AFTER Michael Redd on the scoring list.

I just don’t think the basketball gods would have been okay with that. The Michael Redds of the world should not be celebrated. Scoring like gangbusters on a crappy team should not elevate you unto elite status. Had Redd eclipsed the hallowed scoring record he almost certainly would have needed his number retired. No way could Brian Winters and Johnny Mac be sitting up in the rafters while the all-time leading scorer wonders when his time will come. I mean, if Glenn Robinson is even in the conversation, which would have to be solely based on his contributions as a scorer and the team’s success during his years, Redd would have been guaranteed a spot in the rafters.

Given the Bucks current salary cap situation, Redd’s penchant for injury over the past few years, and my expectation of a playoff surge sans him, Redd will likely be shopped with great fury this offseason and into next season provided he can show that he has recovered from his injury. Sources had said that other teams were inquiring on the availability of Redd this season, but I feel like the Bucks thought they would need him to make what they deemed a necessary playoff run. Now that they will know they can be competitive without the man who was once thought to be their cornerstone, Redd will likely be gone long before his contract in Milwaukee is up.

Oddly enough Redd is probably a much more accurate figure to represent the Bucks than Kareem. The Bucks being as forgettable a franchise as Milwaukee is a city Kareem was a star far too big for Milwaukee, he was made for Los Angeles or his hometown New York.

"Live in Milwaukee? No, I guess you could say I exist in Milwaukee," Abdul-Jabbar said in an early magazine interview. "I am a soldier hired for service and I will perform that service well. Basketball has given me a good life, but this town has nothing to do with my roots. There's no common ground."

Redd is a small town workhorse guy, the underdog who rose from second round wannabe to Olympian. Unless you’re a certifiable NBA fan or Milwaukeean, Kareem is, was and always will be a Laker. Even when the Bucks get it right they can’t win. Yes, Redd seems to fit the city right, a star with limitations. Milwaukee is an okay city, but it is not a Chicago or New York. Nothing in Milwaukee is "larger than life". Milwaukee will forever be associated with the Michael Redd's and Ray Allen's who never could be the centerpiece of a great team. Milwaukee is home to the Sidney Moncriefs who get the most of their abilities and never say die. Milwaukee had the Mecca, but that didn't mean it was destined to be the epicenter of the NBA. But the basketball gods don’t care about all that. They don’t care about player preferences or how large a city is, they just care about keeping things in order. And now that order will likely never be:
1. Redd
2. Abdul-Jabar

Redd will likely go down years from now as a productive scorer on crappy teams, and a forgotten Olympian on a team of shining stars. Just as the basketball gods planned.


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  2. Scoring 20+ points with a FG% and TS% consistently over 45 and 55 respectively is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially if you've been doubled and tripled team for the last 6 years or so. He's also never had any real talent around him. Up until this year, the best player he ever played with as a starter was Mo Frickin Williams. You can't win championships alone. Just ask Dwayne Wade and Michael Jordan. You need help in this league. Redd never had any. The Bucks have drafted poorly, and signed garbage free agents over the years. Even Ray Allen had Big Dog, and Sam Cassell. Speaking of Ray Ray, I'm sure most Bucks fans would trade Redd for him any day of the week. You know, despite the fact that he makes more money and isn't as good as Redd is, which leads me to my next point. His contract has never help the Bucks back from spending money. I'm wondering, what do you think of Bogut and now that he's received big bucks and can't stay healthy? By the way, any player with Redd's scoring average, FG% and TS% will always garner the type of money he received. Take the time to look up salaries. He's also improved every year since getting payed. Not something you can say for every star player. Mike is easily one of the most unappreciated player in the league. The last sentence alone proves how ridiculous this whole article was. I'm almost shocked that you didn't say anything about his religious beliefs, as even that part of Michael Redd gets ridiculed by malicious Bucks fans.

  3. Redd is a very good scorer I never disputed that. But he never did a whole lot else to help a team win games. I can't seem to remember more than 5 occasions when I felt after a Bucks game that Redd made anyone better. His contribution was being a volume scorer. On a crappy team. You seem to feel he is elite, that's a reach. I'll name 15 players better in each of the last 6 seasons if you so desire. In the grand scheme of things being a top 25 player is elite to an average person, but for an NBA player its just pretty good.

    I don't blame him for signing a large contract, but signing a scoring 2 guard to a max deal when he is a below average defensive player and bad rebounder has proven not to be a successful formula. I'm curious as to why Joe Johnson hasn't garnered that type of money, given your theory, despite being a superior player.

    He seems pretty accurately appriciated to me. I also purposely would not mock someone outside of what they do on the court, unless it deserves mocking, i.e. Michael Phelps smoked pot and that was funny. Even when I take aim at Richard Jefferson I say that he seems like a genuinely good guy, he just isn't a great player.

  4. Good commentary on Redd, Jeremy, if not a little harsh. But yeah, you have to call it like it is.
    I always thought Michael Redd was a good, if not selfish player, especially with his shooting. He'll probably get traded next season. But the real disappointment to me with the Bucks is the below-average drafting. I know they can't all be like Kareem, but you would have hoped that Robinson and Bogut could have lived up to their no.1 overall status. But, it wasn't really the case with Robinson, and it doesn't look like it will be the case with Bogut, either.
    The thing that really puzzles me, is, how do the Bucks go from having one of the best winning percentages in NBA history from '68-'91, to one of the most subpar teams in the league for the last 17 years?

  5. Being born in Milwaukee, and raised there for 17 years. I ask you to take back what you said about Milwaukee being an "okay" city. I live in Las Vegas now, and I cry sometimes to think I can't go back there. It IS the greatest city in the world.