March 21, 2006
Why Is J.J. Redick Not Considered Top 5 All-Time ACC Player
Lee P. Butler
Just as March Madness first begins its yearly infestation across the U.S., sports aficionados from amateur sports addicts
in dark crowded sports bars to expert round ball ‘bracketologists’ on lighted television stages and sports talk
radio broadcasts break down microscopic examinations of former and current teams and players from the NCAA Men’s Division
1 basketball organization.
With deliberate mechanics from some to emotionally charged aplomb from others, the debates
begin. Statistics are bandied about, records are flaunted, memories and fantastical moments are repeated and replayed until
every individual player and team categorization has been rated and listed for their places in college basketball history.
when it came time for sportswriters, analysts, and general talking heads to start breaking down the current basketball season,
as is the case each year, the talk has often turned to one player in particular from the Atlantic Coast Conference who is
considered one of only two national players to be considered for the most prestigious award in NCAA basketball, the Naismith
That player is Duke Blue Devil guard J.J. Redick.
Many of those who follow the game say that he has the
smoothest jump shot they have ever witnessed, but generally concede that they don’t believe him to be the best shooter
in NCAA or even ACC history.
It is that mindset that creates a problem. Somewhere along the line, members of the media
who manage the statistical and emotional penumbra of men’s college basketball have found themselves at odds with what
has traditionally been accepted as the criteria used to rate players and their performances.
Yes, the emotional aspect
of experiencing the visceral elation associated with the game is a powerful motivator in what one remembers about a player’s
performance. But the supposedly calm cool heads in the sports establishment are expected to have a better grasp of a player’s
overall career than the few memorable snapshot images that dominate the media’s selective promotion machine.
in point is the talk this year from the talking heads about the national scoring leader race between Duke’s J.J. Redick
and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison. The excitement surrounding this battle also spurred them to rate Redick’s career
and rank him among the past ACC players, some even labeling the endeavor as a question of whether he is one of the top five
greatest or not.
Without blinking an eye and almost to a person, they quickly dismissed Redick’s smooth and deadly
jump shot as described by them, as just not being ‘sweet’ enough to place him in the top five greatest players
and they then promptly list the ones on their ‘lists’.
Which begs the question, what does a fellow have
to do to get a little respect?
Back-handed compliments don’t justify those in the know simply denying the accomplishments
of a player with the laundry list of awards and achieved milestones of broken records, some that have stood for decades, that
J.J. Redick has to his credit.
Along with breaking many of the most highly regarded records in basketball for the Blue
Devils, he has achieved a stellar status in the conference and national levels.
He made the most consecutive free throws
in the ACC with 54 and should end his career as unquestionably the greatest free throw shooter in NCAA Division I basketball
history. He has already become the record holder for having made more three pointers than anyone and is adding to that total
with each passing game.
He is the ACC’s all-time scoring leader... that’s right, he has scored more points
than anyone in ACC history... and set the record for the most points scored and most three pointers made in the ACC tournament.
Most sports writing geniuses who opine endlessly on why J.J.’s astounding scoring accomplishments don’t
mean anything and have nothing to do with being a ‘great’ player, also think that Phil Ford and Michael Jordan
of the North Carolina Tar heels are easily in the top five players, because Ford was a ‘great dribbler’ and Jordan,
well he made that one winning shot in 1982.
Of course part of Redick’s lack of respect from those who should
know better comes from the fact that he is without question the most hated player in ACC basketball.
one sportswriter wrote, the two-time ACC regular season player-of-the-year, two-time ACC Tournament MVP, Adolph F. Rupp and
Sporting News National player of the year award winner, and could become the eighth player in college basketball history to
repeat as National Player of the Year... ‘smiles’ after he makes shots.
Some of those shots are from five
feet beyond what would be an NBA three point line! Duke hating fans consider his smiling to be a show of ‘arrogance’.
how other players in the league who have danced, swung their arms, took off their jerseys, gotten in the faces of referees,
or stood on the scorers table at half court and pounded their chests after making shots as terribly challenging as dunks were
seen as simply expressing their pride or elation.
Redick once made a shot while he was falling out of bounds with
three defenders covering him and as he got off the floor behind the cheerleaders and ran down the court to get back on defense,
he just smiled... of course to his critics, he was expressing his arrogance.
The brain surgeons at ESPN routinely
comment on J.J.’s three pointers as being the same as a ‘lay-up’ for him. They have gotten so accustomed
to him knocking down shots from beyond the arc that they consider it to be no big deal, but there is no way that hitting a
three point shot with two guys defending him is even close to being equivalent to a lay-up or dunk... even for the guy who
could become one of the top 10 all-time scorers in NCAA history!
The biggest strike against him is the fact that he
plays for Duke and Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. Just as it is with Redick, Coach K is vilified by fans and is often
criticized by the media, yet as Dick Vitale says, all he does is win.
Sportswriter Ron Green Jr. of the Charlotte Observer
recently wrote, "The anti-Duke crowd despises the way Krzyzewski talks about relationships and how he hugs his players."
sad. He probably smiles, too.
While J.J. and his fellow Blue Devils play towards their ultimate dream of a national
championship, what the talking heads never seem to notice or consider is that another of his senior teammates, Sheldon ‘the
Landlord’ Williams, is the first scoring option in Coach K’s offensive scheme.
Doesn’t matter now
and didn’t matter then to media blowhards who were more concerned that Redick didn’t dunk the ball much during
his career or that while he was chasing records he was sharing points with a fellow All-American player who had worked to
make a name for himself along with Redick during their four year careers.
To the sports geniuses in the media there
is no way Redick with his mountain of broken records and awards of acclamation can be one of the top five greatest players
in ACC men’s basketball history.
The rest of us know better.
Just keep smiling, J.J!