JJ Redick‘s retirement after a 15-year NBA career brings up mixed memories for fans. On the one hand, Redick turned himself into one of the greatest shooters in league history. On the other, before he even reached the NBA, the former Duke star was one of the most hated collegiate players of all time. That hate was so strenuous for Redick that he contemplated quitting basketball altogether.
The eventual No. 11 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft carved out a long and lucrative pro career. But he had to learn how to deal with constant hostility — from almost literally everyone and everywhere — before he even became an upperclassman in Durham.
JJ Redick was loathed everywhere he went during his career at Duke
Redick averaged almost 20 points per game, shot better than 40% from three, and was a 91% free-throw shooter during his career at Duke. He was a standout player in both the ACC and at the national level. But the 6-foot-4 sharpshooter was despised anywhere outside Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Redick won a ridiculous 22 awards during his college career. He was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team, was voted All-ACC four times, was the ACC Player of the Year twice, was named the 2005-06 AP Player of the Year, and won the Naismith Award and Rupp trophies his senior season. Those are just some of his honors as a Blue Devil.
As the best player on one of the best and most hated teams in all of college basketball, Redick drew ire from opposing supporters everywhere. But he never shied away from giving as much as he got, either.
He also stayed at Duke for four seasons and spent each of them continuing to antagonize fan bases that never cared for him in the first place. But he nearly quit halfway through that four-year career.
Redick’s retirement almost came after two years with the Blue Devils rather than 15 in the NBA
All that success Redick had at Duke certainly didn’t help his cause. But the abuse he took during his first two seasons almost caused him to quit, as he told the Pardon My Take podcast:
“I had to process people saying things that you just don’t hear said about you, to you, about your family, some of the stuff said about my sisters was like, how can anyone just be that hateful? It just doesn’t make sense to me. There was a lot of processing, and especially those first two years at Duke — I wanted to quit my sophomore year.
“(My sisters) came over for dinner and I was like, ‘I don’t want to play anymore. This is not for me. This is not fun.’ I really struggled those first two years, it was really hard for me.”JJ Redick on how he was treated his first two seasons at Duke
Despite the torment he had to endure, once Redick decided he would return for his junior season with the Blue Devils, he still didn’t mind causing a ruckus in opposing arenas. As he continued on the Pardon My Take podcast, the future lottery pick explained how he started to willingly become the villain he was made out to be:
“It’s like, ‘you think I’m an a******? Okay, I’ll be an a******.’ And then you’re 19 and you’re like, ‘I kinda like this. I kinda like this.’
“We’re in the middle of North Carolina, so the woman who spreads the cream cheese on your bagel in the morning at the food hall is talking s*** to you and it’s like, ‘I can’t escape this. I can’t go anywhere.’
“I felt like I was kind of in this fish bowl and everyone was looking at me.”Redick on his reaction to becoming college basketball’s biggest villain
The NBA journeyman eventually matured and became a likable personality, even developing a podcast of his own. But it wasn’t easy to shake his villainous persona.
JJ Redick became a legitimate NBA player, but he had to endure a massive amount of hatred before he got there
Redick went on to earn more than $100 million during his NBA career, playing for six different teams across his 15 seasons. He became one of four players in league history to sit in the top 20 all-time in 3-point attempts and 3-point percentage.
But it’s hard to say it was even an inauspicious start to the Virginia native’s basketball career. Perhaps dreadful is a better word. And Redick certainly brought plenty of the vitriol on himself with his egotistical attitude when he was younger.
Still, the fact that one of the biggest stars in all of college basketball almost quit after his sophomore season because of how badly opposing fans treated him — as a teenager — is nearly impossible to comprehend.