When you work for a professional sports team or in media there’s one unwritten rule everyone knows you’re never supposed to break. It’s a rule that is simple yet important: remain unbiased by not cheering in the press box.
Then again, rules are made to be broken.
On Saturday night it was next to impossible not to cheer in the press box — or anywhere for that matter– and root for what was taking place on the court at US Airways Center. No, not the Suns victory — although that was fun and something everyone wanted to see — but rather watching a man achieve something he wasn’t sure was possible anymore.
Michael Redd hadn’t started an NBA game — we’re pretty sure he didn’t start any rec league or YMCA games either — since January 10, 2010 when he was a member of the Bucks. He got the chance on Saturday night against the Bobcats, but that’s not the story. It’s what he did with the opportunity that made it an evening worthy of recognition.
Two knee surgeries, hundreds of hours of rehab and lots of personal reflection had led up to that moment and Redd seized it. He led the Suns in scoring with a season-high 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Comebacks aren’t rare in sports. They’re kind of like Adam Sandler movies. They come around once a year and usually create a marginal amount of buzz before being forgotten. If you’ve gotten the chance to speak with Redd though, you know it’s different with him.
He is one of the nicest professional athletes you’ll meet. Someone who is visibly humbled by the journey that has brought him to the Phoenix Suns and happy to accept where ever it will lead him.
That became very apparent in the locker room following the game. As he sat in the mesh-backed chair in front of his locker, there was a look of peace on his face, coupled with a hint of joy. He looked like a man who had some of the weight of a two-year long journey that took him from the edge, and back lifted. His words to reporters showed it, as well.
“This was one of the proudest moments of my career,” Redd said of his performance. “And to get the win was obviously the key. But to come back through the tears, the hurt, the hours of rehab and training to come back and accomplish this, may be the most proudest moment of my career actually.”
While Redd returned to his reserve role on Monday, he continued to show just how far he has come. He helped provide a spark off the bench scoring 10 points against the Hawks in the team’s second straight win. The magic continued on Tuesday in a homecoming of sorts in Milwaukee as he scored 14 points against his former team. His efforts off the bench helped lead the Suns to another thrilling victory.
They say nice guys finish last. In this case, hopefully whoever ‘they’ are, are wrong. Redd is the kind of nice guy that you hope finishes first.
After three big games it has become abundantly clear, he’s the kind of guy you root for to make a full comeback and shock the NBA world. Even if you have to break the rules a few times and do it from the press box.
Are you rooting for Michael Redd’s comeback?