NBA player turned podcast bro JJ Redick has been doing some guest spots on ESPN’s First Take lately, and he’s gotten some positive attention out of the deal. Most recently, he took fellow panelist Chris Russo to task for barking some Fox News talking points about Draymond Green, thus casting himself as the rare thinking and virtuous First Take panelist.
Redick is a smart guy, and seems to understand better than most that one’s “success” on First Take is entirely dependent on what predetermined role you are willing to play, and how to act as a foil to whoever else is on the show that day. Redick’s done well to carve out space for himself as the Smart And Sober One, but that’s a prized position that can only be inhabited for so long. As Redick himself admitted yesterday, the very nature of the show demands that everyone, eventually, becomes The Real Big Dumbass.
This is obviously funny, for the fact that Redick is trying to position himself saying, Oh yeah? Well I’m just a ridiculous circus clown who lets television producers stuff stupid words into my mouth! as some sort of takedown of a random Twitter user. It’s also a good reminder of how this shit works, and has always worked.
But mostly, it’s puzzling. A lot of people get paid a lot of money to be professionally stupid on television, and though I can shake my head at them, I can also understand why they do it. There’s the money, obviously, but also it’s honestly hard to imagine some of these jokers doing anything else with their lives. What is Chris Russo supposed to do? Work at a bank?
JJ Redick doesn’t need to be out here doing this to himself, though. He played 15 seasons in the NBA, earned over $100 million, and in the process shed his image as an annoying shithead that was bestowed upon him the minute he enrolled at Duke. Redick could do anything with the rest of his life, and yet he chooses to wake up at some ungodly morning hour, make the trip to ESPN’s studio, and sometimes say things that he knows are stupid and wrong, into a camera. This suggests something quite chilling: Redick is in fact the biggest debate pervert of them all. He doesn’t have to do this. He likes to do this.