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Media Meltdowns

NBA Dead Period Filled By JJ Redick Reacting To Himself Blasting Doc Rivers

Several YouTube screenshots of a screeching JJ Redick
Images via ESPN/YouTube

With the NBA All-Star break one long day away from concluding, the basketball news cycle is depleted. The biggest thing going right now is the reaction to the reaction to JJ Redick criticizing Doc Rivers in the most annoying way possible.

Oddly enough, the story begins where most NBA news items tend to wind up: after being processed and excreted by higher-order members of the food chain. At the All-Star weekend, ClutchPoints' Tomer Azarly asked Rivers about James Harden, and the new head coach of the underachieving Milwaukee Bucks told Azarly that the Clippers called him, the guy who most recently coached Harden with the Philadelphia 76ers, before making the trade in October. "They made calls and I was one of the guys who said it would be a great deal for them because I thought he fit them better than he would fit the Sixers team," Rivers said, adding, “It's a league. We talk."

That was one of three recent quotes from Rivers that irked Redick, Rivers's former player and current ESPN Finals broadcast replacement. This past weekend, Rivers admitted that the new gig had been "harder than I thought." After the Bucks lost to the faux-fur version of the Grizzlies on Feb. 15, Rivers criticized his team's focus: "We had some guys here, some guys in Cabo." Redick had seen enough, and 10 minutes after Tuesday's episode of First Take ran a clip of Rivers, Redick cut himself off mid-take to vent.

Here's a transcript of Redick's rant:

I've seen the trend for years. The trend is always making excuses. Doc, we get it. Taking over a team in the middle of the season is hard, we get it. Just like getting traded in the middle of the season is hard for a player. We get it. But it's always an excuse. It's always throwing your team under the bus. They lose to Memphis, "Oh, it's his players' fault." Memphis was playing G League guys and two-way guys. Then you look at his quotes over the weekend. Now he wants to take credit for the James Harden trade to the Clippers working out? He wants credit for that? There's never accountability with that guy.

Rivers is kind of annoying with all of his excuses. The reason the Bucks fired Adrian Griffin was because a team with a two-time MVP and Damian Lillard was not playing to its potential. Rivers argued that he could get them where they needed to be, and now he's arguing for patience after a 3-7 start in Milwaukee. When he's publicly saying, "I told [Bucks ownership] 'I don’t understand why you’re doing this,'" about his own hiring, he's deftly spreading blame to everyone but himself. But is he not supposed to call out his team for sleepwalking through a bad loss? Should he fall on his sword because Lillard can't defend anyone? Rivers has been fired before, the most recent being this past May after the Sixers lost to the Celtics in seven games. It seems like he was fairly held accountable for the team's failure.

The substance of Redick's take isn't particularly insightful, but the form is interesting. He's clearly being groomed as ESPN's next do-it-all NBA media star: calling games (pretty well, for what it's worth) while also having the versatility to both yell on First Take and talk about zoom actions on Zach Lowe's podcast. A rant like this does not progress any dialogue around Rivers's hiring—the most obvious story in a period without games—but it'll go viral and generate for ESPN more days of yapping about the yapping.

And that's what happened. Redick's remarks were a signal flare for seemingly every former Clippers role player, including current Milwaukee Buck Patrick Beverley (defended Rivers's honor), former Rivers big men Marcin Gortat and Spencer Hawes (agreed with Redick), and current Doc Rivers son, Austin Rivers, who also works at ESPN.

When the sun rose on Wednesday, Redick was back on First Take and baffled that anyone paid attention to what he said in a prime morning slot on national TV. "I can do a video on my podcast where I break down the last nine games the Pelicans have used Zion Williamson as the primary ballhandler ... 54,000 views on YouTube," he said. "But I wanna call out a coach yesterday. Oh, that gets tens of millions of engagements. That's the ecosystem we live in. So do fans actually want to be educated or not?"

Oh, so now yelling about Doc Rivers is a social experiment? Give me a break. Nobody has ever needed the return of regular-season basketball more than these guys. That phoned-in All-Star Game would be better than another minute of this shit.

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