Going Vertical

By on March 23, 2016

 

 Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (photo Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports)

Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (photo Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports)

You wake up at 7 a.m. and jump out of the bed to eat the breakfast that’s been prepared for you. You put on your only pair of Jordan’s that you have, they are as a hand-me-down from your older brother and rush out of the house to get to school. Once there, you have a hard time focusing on what the teachers are saying and experience difficulties concentrating on your assignments. Because this is not where you want to be nor what you want to do. You want to be on the basketball court. You want to shoot some hoops.

As the school bell rings, you run down with your friends to the local park holding your basketball in your arms. There you meet kids from other schools and a game of 5-on-5 breaks out. At the end of the game all the kids starts leaving the park and you remain by yourself. You get some shots up before you notice it getting darker and therefore head home. During dinner with the family you ask your father if he can play with you in the backyard. He agrees. You go out there with him and have fun together as he helps out with practicing your free throws. After a while he grabs the ball and says it’s time for bed. But you don’t want to go to bed. You want to play basketball.

This goes on for a number of years and your desire to improve gradually intensifies. The morning practices start earlier, the number of shots you take daily gets higher and the sweat starts feeling like a second layer of skin. However, you don’t mind because you know this is what it takes to reach your dream of going pro. You have to breathe, eat and live basketball. Following what feels like an eternity of hard work and tribulations, you ultimately make it to the league. You enjoy your playing days and have the time of your life, experiencing a wide range of emotions each and every game, get scrutinized on Twitter on a bad day and praised on blog posts whenever you excel. As the feeling of being on top of the world grows stronger, you eventually feel as invincible as that guy at the bar ordering his sixth and seventh tequila shots. That moment, just like the previously mentioned man, you fail to realize that everything that goes up must come back down. Deep down you both know, only one possible ending to this experience awaits.

For him, a massive headache and dehydration.

For you? Retirement.

It won’t hit you after a good night’s sleep the same way the headaches and dry throats do after ingesting too much alcohol. Much rather, it will slowly and in constant movement, creep up on you like sleep itself. Imagine being stuck in a leghold trap and seeing a lion in the distance walking towards you. You foolishly convince yourself that if you are quiet and don’t as much as blink then maybe, just maybe, he won’t notice you. On the other hand, you know that he’s staring right into your eyes, and that in a matter of seconds you will be reduced to just another piece of meat stuck in his teeth. That’s just the way Father Time gets you.

For someone who’s entire life have been revolving around the game of basketball, making the transition from professional basketball player to retired can be a paralyzing experience. Everything you know and everything you’ve have dreamed of up to this point are all gone. It is not easy to find new passions after being absorbed by one specific thing your entire life. We’ve all heard stories about players seeking to replace the adrenaline rush of playing in the NBA with other thrills such as drugs, alcohol and gambling. And I strongly believe that a determining factor as to why things went wrong is simply because they lacked a plan. That’s why it fills me with joy seeing how Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick is setting himself up for success after his tenure in the NBA is over.

Before I go on, let me first say this: Redick is not even remotely close to being washed up. At 31 years old, he’s having the best statistical season of his career, so you would think he’d be satisfied with playing a major role on a playoff team. Which is why I find his decision to launch his own podcast a little bit strange, albeit genius. The reason it’s such a clever move, is because while it seems logical to start building a brand when you’re peaking in relevancy, many players don’t do it the right way. Some let other people and companies take advantage of their fame and allow them to make money off of them and bring awareness of their product by doing commercials, advertisements etc. While there is nothing wrong with this, they player himself won’t be able to reap much rewards as time passes on. Instead of doing this, JJ is making further investments in himself while he’s on top of his game. ‘’The Vertical with JJ Redick’’ is breaking the mold by having a current NBA player, in himself, hosting people such as his fellow pros (like Jared Dudley and Deandre Jordan), retired players (Steve Nash) and even college basketball coaches (Chris Collins). Not only does this podcast give insight into the life of a professional basket player, but it also gives his guests an additional outlet where they can freely speak about their thoughts about certain actions and events, which in turn will help players who are victims of negative media portrayal.

Needless to say, while JJ Redick reinvented himself at the stage of his career where it was hardly necessary, he did it with impeccable timing. Time will tell how long Redick plans on doing this, however, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will only open more doors for him and offer him a lot more opportunities to seize when he finally does decide to call it quits. Here’s hoping that more players realize this and follow in his footsteps, because he’s currently leading by example.

Categories: Basketball, Featured, Sports
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