CAMDEN, NJ – The picture shown below was taken at the 76ers’ October 9th shootaround in Boston, but the moment was hardly unique to that morning’s shootaround.
In fact, these exchanges – always organic, lively, and leaving the primary participants amused – have become so commonplace that photos like the one above could have probably been snapped after just about every Sixers’ practice session this fall.
Long before JJ Redick formally put pen to paper on his contract with the Sixers July 8th, he had done some recon on Brett Brown, and vise versa. Both men had a sense that they’d hit it off, based on first-hand observations, and word-of-mouth.
After about three weeks together, it looks like they might be even more simpatico than each originally thought. Their interactions are free-flowing and easy, signs of a budding, significant player-coach relationship taking root.
“I think it’s important to have open lines of communication,” Redick said recently, “and I think the best lines of communication are two-way lines.”
That certainly seems to be the case in the context of the 12th-year shooting guard, and his new head coach.
Of course, Redick and Brown talk plenty about the game that they’ve turned into a profession – pick-and-roll defense, other schemes and strategies, personnel. But the subject matter they discuss, somehow or another, usually ends up drifting to deeper places – politics, children, life.
“It covers a wide range of topics, said Redick, “but [they’re] always good interactions.”
“It goes where it goes,” Brown said of his chats with Redick. “It’s the thing I like most about him – he’s a normal guy, he’s fun, and he’s smart.”
In painting a profile of Redick as a regular, accessible person, it’s perhaps noteworthy, but not entirely surprising, that Brown’s remarks conjure up memories of comments made by the 56-year old’s former employer a few seasons ago.
“I enjoy being around people that can laugh at themselves, enjoy humor, and can give and take it, and Brett can certainly do that,” said Gregg Popovich, back in November of 2015, before his San Antonio Spurs hosted Brown and the Sixers.
Returning to the present, Brown appears to be of like-mind when it comes to Redick’s presence on the Sixers’ roster.
“I think that anytime you can find people who have a tremendous sense of humor, and just think at a high level all over the place…it’s enjoyable,” said Brown. “He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and neither do I. There’s a self-awareness he has, and humility he has that I’m attracted to.”
Two other qualities of Redick’s that Brown appreciates? The Duke product is coachable, and competitive. In this regard, Redick’s arrival was preceded by his reputation.
“The league is really quite small when you’ve been in it for 17 years,” said Brown, whose network of NBA connections consists not only of executives and coaches, but former players as well.
“The people who have coached JJ or played with JJ reassured me and reminded me that he’s somebody I’d connect with, he’s somebody that you would want to have in your program, really could coach, and has leadership apart from the fact he can shoot.
“Nothing has been contradicted since I have been with him.”
While the package that Redick brings to the Sixers indeed goes beyond the 14th-most accurate 3-point shooting percentage (41.5) in NBA history, the fact that the man can rip from the perimeter can’t be overlooked.
Check out his pre-season shot chart. Not too many red “Xs” from the territory behind the arc, right?
Redick vs. Grizzlies
Redick vs. Celtics
Redick @ Brooklyn
Redick vs. Heat
Redick went an impressive 12 for 14 from 3-point range in his four exhibition appearances. He hit 54.3 of his field goal attempts overall.
“He fits in perfectly,” said Joel Embiid, who played in two pre-season games with Redick. “I love being around him. I have a good relationship with him. I’m happy to have him, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
While the Sixers were in Kansas City for last Friday’s pairing with the Miami Heat, Redick, who spent the last four seasons with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and the LA Clippers, spoke about the “newness and freshness” that have accompanied him joining the Sixers.
“I feel more invigorated,” Redick said. “I’m in a good place, I love the game, I’m still playing the game I love, I get to be around young guys and a great coaching staff, so it’s good. It’s all good.”
Having reached the post-season each year of his career, the veteran also recognizes that patience will probably be a necessary part of the Sixers’ mindset as they navigate through the early stages of the 2017-2018 campaign, which opens Wednesday in Washington, DC.
“We’re integrating a lot of new guys, and we’re all learning how to play together,” said Redick. “I think Brett is taking it slow as well. We have a ways to go, but I like what I see, and I think we have a lot of potential to really make a push here.”
With personalities and visions aligned, Redick figures to assume an important role – on the court and off – in helping Brown advance the Sixers to their next step.
“There’s not many faults going on with JJ Redick,” Brown said. “I’m just thrilled that he’s with me, and thrilled that he’s with the program.”