Bucks, fans greet Redd warmly in return

MILWAUKEE — For 11 seasons, Michael Redd represented

a lot of things to Milwaukee Bucks fans.

He was a poster boy for hard work, going from an unheralded second-round pick

to a franchise cornerstone and an All-Star. He was a fan favorite, capable of

putting 20 points on the board on any given night, with a sweet shot that was

the envy of many.

Down the stretch though, whether warranted or not, he represented a series of

poor financial decisions and a player who was grossly overpaid, one who was

injured more often than healthy and somebody whose best days were behind him.

Redd returned to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee Tuesday night as a visiting

player for the first time in his professional career. Now with the Phoenix

Suns, Redd is eager to prove he still has enough strength left in his

twice-repaired knees to support a 32-year-old body while still producing at the

NBA level.

Being back in Milwaukee was a pleasant experience for Redd, who had nothing but

good things to say about the fans, the city and organization — especially Sen.

Herb Kohl, the Bucks’ owner. Before the game, the team played a tribute video

to Redd on the scoreboard and he was greeted with a warm ovation from the crowd

of 13,203 when he entered the game with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.

“What an honor,” Redd said. “I wasn’t expecting that. The city

of Milwaukee and the fans have been great to me. Sen. Kohl has been wonderful

to me and my family. I will always be grateful to him and this city.

Redd scored 12 points in the half on 6-of-10 shooting and finished the game

with 14 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of work, looking a lot like his

old self — before the injury, of course — in the process.

“People who know me and watched me play over the years, they know that’s

what I do,” Redd said. “Tonight was no different. I’m just getting

comfortable with the offense. Tonight was special, though, I wanted to come out

and play well.”

It was another strong outing for Redd, who made his first start in nearly two

years on Saturday, scoring 17 points in 23 minutes as the Suns beat Charlotte 95-89.

He followed that up with 10 points off the bench in a 99-90 win at Atlanta on Monday

night.

After making the Saturday start, Redd called it one of the proudest moments of

his career.

“Knowing where I came from the last couple years, to get to the point

where I can play at this level again was a miracle,” Redd said. “That

was a proud moment.”

He signed with Phoenix on Dec. 29, 2011, agreeing to a one-year contract for

the veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million. Redd’s season debut came Jan. 12, in a

101-90 loss to Cleveland. He scored 12 points that night of 4-of-9 shooting in

19 minutes.

Overall, Redd has appeared in 12 games this season, and is averaging 5.5 points

in 12 minutes of action. As he continues to shake off the rust and get back

into full-game shape, Suns head coach Alvin Gentry expects Redd’s playing time

to increase.

“The guy works extremely hard and he’s getting himself back into All-Star

form,” Gentry said. “You could see a glimpse of it tonight and I

think you’ll see more of it as the year goes on.”

In many ways, Redd looks at his efforts to get back to the NBA as a reflection

of his overall career.

“That’s kind of been the story of my career, just over-achieving …

climbing over mountains,” Redd said. “When people say you can’t do

something, that kind of motivates me to do it. But I always knew I could get

back to this point.”

The 43rd overall choice in the 2000 NBA draft, Redd appeared in just six games

as a rookie while the Bucks, led by Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell

reached the Eastern Conference finals.

After the 2002 season, Redd became an unrestricted free agent and signed a

four-year, $12 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks. The Bucks

ultimately matched the Mavericks’ offer, and Redd evolved into one of the

game’s leading scorers.

He was named to the 2004 NBA All-Star team and finished that season among the

league leaders in games played (82), field goals (633), points per game (21.7)

and field-goal attempts (1,439) and finished the season by being named to the

All-NBA third team and leading the Bucks into the playoffs for the second consecutive

year.

Redd followed that up with another statistically impressive season in 2004-05,

scoring 23.0 points per game, but the Bucks finished 30-52 and missed the

playoffs. That summer, Redd signed a new contract, worth six years and $91

million, passing on the opportunity to return home to Ohio and play alongside

LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That contract would come to define Redd during his final years in Milwaukee.

He appeared in 75 games that season and 80 the next, but injuries plagued him

over the final three seasons of the deal, limiting him to just 61 games over

that stretch.

He suffered a torn ACL and MCL on Jan. 25, 2009, missing the remainder of that

season. He recovered in time to open the 2009-10 season on the roster but tore

both ligaments again, in the same knee, in a Jan. 10, 2010 game against the Lakers.

After exercising an $18.3 million option on his contract, Redd finally returned

to the court in March of last season. He appeared in 10 games and averaged 4.4

points in 13.4 minutes per night.

His 11-year Milwaukee career ended with him ranking among the franchise leaders

in points (fourth, 11,554); scoring average (fifth, 20.0); field goals (seventh,

4,063); free throws (second, 2,425); 3-pointers (second, 1,003) and games

played (seventh, 578).

Redd also holds the franchise single-game record for points in a game, set on

Nov. 11, 2006, when he scored 57 against the Utah Jazz at the Bradley Center.