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JJ Redick Wants To Give Fans The Why And The How

“This is perfect for me right now.”

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Associated Press

When you think about the best three-point shooters in NBA history, a surfeit of names that have very much transformed the game of basketball come to mind. Dražen Petrović, Kyle Korver, Steve Kerr, and Hubert Davis implemented the three-point shot regularly into their game when the shot was introduced in the 1979-80 season. Today though, shooting from distance is an art form in and of itself, with snipers such as Stephen Curry, Joe Harris, Klay Thompson, and Duncan Robinson consistently knocking down the near 24-foot shot from the top of the key. Sometimes, the high-arcing shot comes from distances even farther away behind the arc for purposes of creating space from defenders or taking advantage of an open look. Even occasional half- and full-court heaves result in a ‘swish,’ electrifying the team and their fans, and becoming moments played on highlight reels for years to come.

Through his 15-year playing career, JJ Redick was no stranger to the three-point basket, making 1,950 of them during his time in the league. In 2015 as the starting shooting guard for the LA Clippers, Redick began his first endeavor into the world of sports media, becoming the first active NBA player with a weekly show during the regular season. The original podcast, which was incorporated into a larger show hosted by current-ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, evolved into The Old Man and the Three, hosted by Redick and Tommy Alter.

J.J. Redick on his college and pro career
Courtesy: MSNBC

In August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Redick and Alter co-founded ThreeFourTwo Productions, which “aims to give an inside look at the stories and personalities in the worlds of sports, business, politics and entertainment.” Additionally, the production company will explore ventures among many different focuses, ranging from film to food.

Redick recently announced his retirement as a player from the game of basketball; however, he will not be far from the court, continuing his journey in the world of sports media in his post-retirement career as an analyst for the NBA on ESPN.

“I pretty much knew last year was going to be my last year in the NBA,” said Redick during his media availability, “so I’ve been sort of preparing for this transition for a long time. I met with ESPN again this fall around the time I was getting ready to announce my retirement, and I just looked at this as sort of a perfect opportunity.”

In his quest for a job in sports media, Redick spoke to both ESPN and Turner Sports about working as an analyst. An aspect of post-retirement life in which he garners considerable value is being able to spend quality time with his two children, Knox and Kai. Being able to have the flexibility to be with his children, while also staying involved in the game of basketball, was a key factor that ultimately pushed Redick to go into broadcasting on television.

“I talked to a coach earlier this summer who had done TV and front office stuff… and one of the things that he impressed upon me was just the time that was available to spend with your young kids when you were doing television,” said Redick. “It’s one of the reasons that I retired, because I wanted to spend more time with my wife and my kids. This is perfect for me right now.”

Redick is excited to begin his journey with ESPN, and will initially serve primarily as a studio analyst. Additionally, he will serve as a color-commentator for select NBA contests, something that he feels comfortable doing with his experience in podcasting.

“I’ve never done a game before, and honestly if I’m being truthful, that’s probably the thing I’m most excited about. I would compare it to a live podcast because you’re just sort of reacting to what’s going on [out] on the court, you’re providing insight, providing analysis, hopefully a little bit of humor, and hopefully, there’s some chemistry with the play-by-play guys.”

The NBA veteran, who played for the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, L.A. Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, was always thinking about going into broadcasting during his NBA career. Prudential in his mindset both on- and off-the-court, Redick has always focused on “the next thing, not the end thing.”

“You’re always thinking about what kind of path you want to take post-career,” said Redick. “This was just a perfect opportunity. It was the right sort of work-life balance in year one.”

JJ Redick Has an Interesting Side Hustle
Courtesy: Getty Images

A standout college player at Duke University, Redick is the Blue Devils’ all-time leading scorer, and a protégé of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a legend on the bench colloquially referred to as “Coach K.” Entering his final season at the helm of Duke University’s men’s basketball program, Redick is open to talking about his time at the school on-the-air. Other than that though, he does not have a genuine interest in covering college basketball for ESPN.

“I did a Zoom call with some folks on the college basketball side and the NBA side [this summer],” said Redick. “My agent and I expressed to ESPN that I was only interested in doing NBA basketball.”

Redick will not demur from criticizing his former teammates while behind the microphone. Something he does not look to be, though, is an on-air personality who relies on giving hot-takes; rather, he will provide his expertise and insight to give listeners a unique perspective during the broadcast.

“I’m looking to provide analysis,” said Redick. “I’m looking to provide the why, the how, all that stuff… I’ve got 30 years… of basketball knowledge in this brain, and I want to share it with the average fan. I want the average fan to come away from one of my appearances knowing [and understanding] the game a little bit better.”

Redick will also seek to incorporate analytics into the broadcast, synthesizing esoteric concepts to render them comprehendible to the viewing audience.

“This may come as a shock to some people, but although I’m a player, I’m also an analytics person, so I study analytics,” said Redick. “I know ESPN uses a lot of great stats, and I’m looking to impart some of those stats so that the average fan can understand [them].”

The spontaneity of the NBA is something Redick cherishes as a student of the game, and a part of his viewpoint as a player he feels he will be able to describe to basketball fans in his new role. He expounded on this component of the game by spotlighting an elementary math equation — with a twist.

“I always say this league is not two plus two equals four. Sometimes two plus two equals five and sometimes it equals seven. You never really know. That’s what makes our sport so beautiful, because it’s this sort-of organic mixture of personalities and skills and luck. You never know what the on-court product is going to result in.”

Working with a team of professionals is an element of the job Redick enters with years of prior experience from his time on the hardwood. He knows that being a team player is essential to sustained success, and will be something he focuses on as he enters this new chapter of his career.

“One of the things that I love about basketball is that it’s collaborative,” explained Redick. “It requires cooperation, and when you’re [part of] a really good group, there’s really good chemistry, and you just love going to work every day. I’m approaching this in the same way.”

Redick made his studio debut last Wednesday ahead of ESPN’s NBA doubleheader featuring matchups between the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, along with the Charlotte Hornets visiting the Golden State Warriors on the new studio show NBA Today, hosted by NBA reporter Malika Andrews.

J.J. Redick Talks the Three-Point Contest and Once Being the Most Hated Man  in College Basketball | GQ
Courtesy: GQ

“After 15 years in the NBA, I am excited to take what I have learned on the court and be able to provide my insight and strong opinions about the game I love,” said Redick in a press release from ESPN. “I am thrilled to have found a place on the biggest platform in sports, ESPN. I look forward to starting my post-playing career with such an incredible organization.”

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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