This article incorrectly said that Michael Redd of the U.S. national basketball team was drafted by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks in 2001. He was drafted in 2000.
From Way Back, It's Redd
Saturday, August 25, 2007
LAS VEGAS, Aug. 24 -- Michael Redd's inability to hit outside shots coming out of Ohio State explains how he slipped to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round in 2000. That same inability limited him to just six games his rookie season and led the then-Bucks coach to give him the best advice of his young career.
"George Karl, he really told me, to be a shooting guard, you need to learn how to shoot," Redd said on Friday, a day after he hit three three-pointers and scored 15 points in a five-minute, first-quarter flurry that blew open the Americans' 123-59 rout of the Virgin Islands in the FIBA Americas Championship.
With Karl's words ringing in his ears, Redd took hundreds of shots with then-teammate Ray Allen after practice and nearly developed blisters on his left fingers while working almost exclusively on his jumper, until he became an all-star in 2004 and earned a new reputation around the NBA.
"He's one of the best shooters in the game," Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld, who drafted Redd for the Bucks, said in a telephone interview on Friday. "It didn't come by accident. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of time on the practice court."
When reminded of his past shooting woes, Redd chuckled. "It's funny to see this transformation but it's working for me," said Redd, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Friday.
And it is also working for the U.S. team, which continues preliminary round play Saturday against Canada. Redd, a career 39 percent shooter from beyond the NBA three-point line (23 feet 9 inches, compared with the international line of 20-6), has made 7 of 14 three-pointers in blowout wins over Venezuela and the Virgin Islands. He is tied with Carmelo Anthony for the team lead in scoring after two games (39 points). Redd has managed to produce at a high level coming off the bench to provide a rest for Kobe Bryant.
"Most shooters need to find a rhythm or whatever, but he's ready right away," U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Michael's a key guy for us and that is something we did not have last year. He's one of the few guys that I've seen in coaching in over 30 years where guys are just so happy that he is shooting the ball."
The U.S. team's struggles to knock down 20-foot jumpers in past international failures had become laughable. Zone is the defense of choice in international competition, so perimeter shooting is invaluable.
In previous gold medal versions of the Dream Team, the United States had designated shooters. Larry Bird and Chris Mullin both assumed the role on the 1992 squad, Reggie Miller took those honors in 1996, and Allen held the title in 2000. But during the 2004 Olympics, the Americans' best long-distance threats were Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion, so opponents practically dared the Americans to shoot from beyond the three-point line. Thus, its embarrassing bronze medal finish.
Redd was named to the world championship team that finished third in Japan last year but couldn't participate because of wedding plans last August. "Listen," Krzyzewski said, emphatically, "we wanted him."
Redd credited his three-point accuracy to a wealth of quality scorers on the team. "It was humbling to hear that people were wanting me on the team, but I felt we had a good enough team anyway without me being here," he said. "Usually, I'm shooting over two or three hands during the season and now I'm getting wide open looks, which is beautiful."
Each time he makes a three-pointer, Redd hoists his left index finger toward the sky, but said he isn't showboating. "I'm giving God all the credit, all the glory," said Redd, a devout Christian who bought his minister father, James, a church after signing a six-year, $91 million contract with the Bucks in 2005. "I wasn't a shooter when I entered the league, so every time it goes in, it's like a miracle."