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J.J. Redick excited, nervous as ESPN debut nears
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J.J. Redick excited, nervous as ESPN debut nears

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J.J. Redick is experiencing “performance nerves” as his ESPN debut nears.

ESPN announced last week that it hired Redick, a former Cave Spring High School, Duke and NBA standout, to be a studio and game analyst. He will make his debut Wednesday night as a studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA doubleheader.

“Mostly just [feeling] excitement. There’s always going to be some nerves — I would describe it as performance nerves, in the same way when you play a basketball game there’s a little bit of performance anxiety because you’re on stage,” he said Monday on a video conference.

“I hope I’m good at it. I hope people respond well to it. And hopefully this is the second career.”

Redick, 37, played for Orlando, Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Dallas in his 15-year NBA career. He announced his retirement in September.

“I was a student of the game,” he said. “I’m a fan of the game. I watch basketball. I read about basketball. I think about basketball. I’m always … analyzing the game. It’s just what I’ve always done. I think that will serve me well in this next chapter.

“This just felt like … a natural transition for me.”

He said the ESPN job is “a perfect opportunity” for him. Redick said one of the reasons he retired was so that he could spend more time with his wife and children, and the ESPN job will enable him to do that.

“It was the right sort of work-life balance in Year 1,” he said.

Redick said he talked with officials at both ESPN and TNT several months ago. He met with ESPN again in September as he was getting ready to announce his retirement.

“TV was certainly a path that I was very interested in,” he said. “I pretty much knew last year was going to be my last year in the NBA, so I’ve been sort of preparing for this transition for a long time.

“This first year out, I wanted to be able to have time to spend with my family, and this gig … gives me a lot of flexibility and it gives me something that I’m very excited about trying to do.”

As a studio analyst, Redick will appear on “NBA Today,” “SportsCenter,” “First Take,” “Get Up” and other TV shows, as well as on ESPN Radio programs.

“I’m a competitive person and so I want to be good at this job,” he said.

Redick will also be an analyst on some games this season.

“That’s probably the thing I’m most excited about, is the opportunity to do a few games,” he said.

Redick said he does not plan on being a “hot-take person” as an analyst.

“I’m looking to provide the why, the how,” he said. “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 the game a little bit better.”

Will he criticize players and coaches?

“Hopefully I’ll use my emotional intelligence … to be truthful,” he said.

He said he will have no problem criticizing former teammates Josh Hart, Tobias Harris, T.J. McConnell and Jrue Holiday.

“I will trash them all day,” he cracked.

Redick said he not only wants to share his experiences with coaches and players but also his knowledge of analytics.

“I study analytics,” he said. “I’m looking to sort of impart some of those stats so the average fan can understand what usage percentage is.”

Redick does have broadcasting experience. He co-hosts “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, which features interviews and discussions about the NBA and other topics. He has had a podcast in one form or another since 2016.

“I’ve had a lot of reps on the podcast. I’ve done some public speaking,” Redick said. “When I played for the Clippers I did a few things in studio with the ‘The Jump’ and with ‘Countdown’ twice during the playoffs, so I’ve had a little bit of experience. But there’s nothing that can really exactly simulate what I’ll be doing [for ESPN].”

Redick talked this summer with ESPN executives in charge of both NBA and college basketball telecasts, but Redick and his agent told ESPN he was interested only in being an NBA analyst.

“There may be some opportunities in time over the course of this year to talk a little about Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] and Duke, but other than that, I’m solely focused on the NBA,” he said.

Redick led Cave Spring to its first state boys basketball title in 2002. He then shined at Duke, scoring a school-record 2,769 points.

He ranks 15th in NBA history with 1,950 career 3-pointers.

“Through Duke and even early in my NBA career, I was a pretty introverted person,” he said. “A lot of things have happened in my career to sort of get me out of that comfort zone and allow me to become more extroverted.

“Playing in L.A. and being in that media market was huge for me, and that’s probably the first time I started thinking about television as a second career.”

He said his NBA career “far exceeded” his expectations.

“When I started playing basketball as a 7- and 8-year old, … the first team I was on, we were 0-15,” he said. “I could only dribble with my right hand. I probably had a true shooting percentage of 8 that season.

“[But] I played 15 years in the NBA and did a number of things that I never thought were possible on an NBA court.”

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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