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:
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.