Grayson Allen might be the most polarizing player in college basketball. That title isn’t bestowed on just anyone, and it’s a title that several Duke players have held over the years, including J.J. Redick.
Indeed, from 2002-06, Redick, who was National Player of the Year as a senior, was one of the most beloved – and hated – players in America. So if anyone can give Allen advice, it’s Redick, who, interestingly enough, has counseled Allen a handful of times.
“The message I always say to him is just be yourself,” Redick said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You’re not going to avoid certain things, (but) try to avoid bringing certain things on you because of your actions. (That’s) something that I experienced as well at Duke my first couple years just with my on-court antics, my persona that I created. It certainly added fuel to the fire.”
While at Duke, Redick was perhaps the most lethal scorer in the country. Everyone knew Redick was great, and so did he – which is why he spent a lot of games smiling, trash-talking and head-bobbing.
“When you’re 18 or 19 years old, there’s nothing that can really prepare you for 20,000 fans at Maryland chanting ‘F-you, J.J.,’” Redick said. “There’s just nothing that can prepare you for that. And so, I think when we talk about college kids, we need to remember that they’re just kids. I was not mature enough. I didn’t have the class or the dignity at 18 or 19 to act a certain way or to act the right way. I just didn’t. I wasn’t mature enough – and I don’t think most 18- or 19-year-old kids are. You see it with fan behavior, you see it sometimes with player behavior. There’s nothing that can sort of prepare you for that fish bowl when you’re that age.”
Allen hopes to lead Duke to its second national title in three years. Redick didn’t win a national title in college, though he did help Duke to the Final Four in 2004.
“I’m a firm believer that failure is a good thing,” Redick said. “I don’t view my four years (at Duke) as a failure, but I certainly wish that I had won a national championship. But every NCAA Tournament for me ended up a little bit short. I always had this vision of sort of standing on the podium with Coach K and Chris Collins and Wojo and my teammates and watching ‘One Shining Moment,’ and that never happened. But because I failed, I think it made be a better person, and it made me a better player.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Redick, 32, is averaging 14.6 points for the Clippers (40-27), who trail the Warriors (52-14) and Spurs (52-14) by 12.5 games in the Western Conference entering play March 14.
“We’re pretty far off right now,” Redick said when asked to compare the Clippers to the Warriors. “They’ve kicked our butts like nine times in a row, something like that, 10 times in a row. I know we beat them two years ago on Christmas, and I don’t think we’ve beat them since. They have our number, and that’s always sort of the topic of discussion when you talk about our team is can they get past the Warriors? I think our focus right now is can we get past the Utah Jazz? I think that’s got to be our focus. Can we get out of the second round? The Warriors are sort of the carrot we’re chasing, the Spurs are the carrot we’re chasing, and we’re sort of in that next tier of teams, realistically. I do think when we’re right and we’re clicking and we’re physically right, we’re mentally right, we have the potential to be as good as anyone in the league, and we’ve done that for stretches. The big issue with our team has been injuries and consistency, and we just haven’t found that over the last season, season-and-a-half.”
Golden State was criticized for resting Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala in a 107-85 loss to the Spurs on Saturday. Redick, however, didn’t see anything wrong with it.
“I think at the end of the day we’re all employees,” he said. “If our bosses decide, along with the players, that it’s in the best interest of the team, then I’m all for guys taking rest. It’s a long season. The old-school guys would obviously chirp and say that they wouldn’t do that in their day, but I think with modern advances and what we know about recovery and rest and the benefits of that, I think it makes sense. If teams are looking to take sort of a long-term approach to things, whether it’s (during the season) or over a player’s career, I think it makes sense.”
Adam Silver does not like teams resting players, especially on the road, but coaches are concerned first and foremost with the health of their players.
“I don’t see this trend stopping,” Redick said. “This is something that teams and owners, front offices, are invested in as much as the coaching staff and the players. This is a conversation that all teams are having now – or most teams are having now. We’ve gone out and hired performance specialists, recovery specialists, people with Ph.D.’s in sleep, so all this stuff is happening. I think it’s going to make the game better. But we do have a responsibility for our partners and to our fans to ensure that we’re putting out a great product. I totally get that. But I also get from the players’ side and the coaches’ side that this is an important topic that needs to continue to happen.”