Redd faces toughest challenge in leadership role
MILWAUKEE -- Michael Redd's development from a second-round pick to Milwaukee's top scorer has been gradual. His leadership skills have never been in question.
He's a man of his word, just ask his father, Pastor James W. Redd.
"One of the things Michael said even in high school was, 'Dad, if I go to the NBA, I'm going to buy you a church," James W. Redd said. "Lo and behold, things worked out to where he got to where he is."
Redd did just that, and carried the Bucks for most of the season to get them back to the playoffs despite a losing record. Veteran Joe Smith said he's appreciated watching Redd develop the last three years.
"You're so-called leading grown men," Smith said. "That's always a tough situation to be in. Over the three years I've been here with Michael, I see him getting better with it every year.
"He's become a little more vocal than what he's been in the past and his actions in practice, leading by example."
But things haven't worked out quite as planned so far in Redd's playoff career.
As a rookie when he played just 35 minutes in six games, Milwaukee came within a victory of the NBA Finals in 2001. Redd said he learned from then-teammate Ray Allen, and his father credits others on that squad like Lindsey Hunter and Sam Cassell for helping his son become the player he is now.
"Mike would spend the night at the house. We'd stay up late and then get up in the morning and go to practice," said Allen, who played with Redd 2½ seasons before being traded to Seattle. "Everything he did just emulated exactly what I was doing out there on the floor and you see what he can do now."
Allen said Redd is like a little brother.
"I played with a lot of young players that don't care and think they have the answers. Just knowing that he wanted to be helped, it was easy," Allen said. "Now, hopefully he'll repay the favor to young guys coming into the league."
But since that season, the franchise has won just three playoff games and is in an 0-2 hole to the Detroit Pistons with Game 3 on Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Redd scored 29 points in Game 2, but got little help from his supporting cast, which is banged up between Mo Williams, who still isn't 100 percent after a left ankle sprain, and Toni Kukoc (back spasms), who shot on Thursday but didn't participate in contact drills.
Pistons guard Richard Hamilton also had limited work in Detroit, but received treatment most of practice Thursday on his aching ankle.
"He's better today than he was Tuesday, and you don't want to sit him out and have the ankle get weaker," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.
"He's a volume shooter and he's pretty much the No. 1 and No. 2 options for them," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "He's going to shoot a lot of shots, and he's going to make some tough ones and score some points. We'll be right there doing whatever we can to make it harder on him."
Guard Charlie Bell said what little chance the Bucks have will be gone quickly unless they help Redd, who only has three assists in two games, by making shots.
"We've just got to do a better job of getting him open and at the same time he has to do a better job of finding guys when they're double- and triple-teaming him," Bell said. "We have to trust that he's going to get us the ball, and we've got to do something with it."
Redd said it's been tough, but his chats after each game with his father help keep him upbeat.
"He's the epitome of leadership," Redd said. "He exemplified that to me."
Redd signed a six-year contract worth more than $90 million over the summer, and his first purchase was his father's second dream, a new church building for his ministry that began in 1991 and continues at the Philadelphia Deliverance Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio.
"Some people dream about being firefighters and stuff like that," the elder Redd said. "My No. 1 dream was to go to the NBA, No. 2 was to be a preacher."
And with his future already secure, Redd's postseason success will be the final measure of his leadership.
"The series isn't over yet," he said.
Associated Press Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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