After almost a nine-month layoff from playing competitive basketball, sharpshooter Michael Redd made his Suns debut against the Cavs on Thursday. Like the former All-Star hadn’t missed a beat, Redd uncorked eight first-quarter points as the first man off the bench for the Suns. Check out Michael’s account of the night below:
Even though I played in Phoenix for so many years as an opponent, it felt different coming in here tonight. But the fans were terrific tonight with their support.
Coming here over the years, I’ve always known that they’ve had great fans here. But it was a little surreal being in the home locker room.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out all of my pregame rituals, like what shoes I’m going to wear. Everything was in place in Milwaukee for so long, now I’m just trying to figure everything out.
But when I put the uniform on before the game, that’s when I realized I was a Sun. Obviously I felt that from day 1, but seeing my name on the back of that Suns jersey made me think, ‘Wow, I’m really a part of this organization.’
Tonight, I felt new to the game because I missed training camp, preseason and the first couple of games. Not like a rookie, necessarily, but I have to get used to No. 1: playing basketball again, and No. 2: getting used to the system.
I was really fortunate to hit my first couple of shots. I was really thanking God for this comeback and a good start.
To come back and play at a high level again, with all of the hard work and tears that went into tonight, a lot of people will never know or understand any of that. So tonight was a monumental moment for me.
To get to make just a couple of shots tonight, it took a lot of hard work over the last couple of years. I took thousands of shots, went through thousands of drills, put in hours of rehab and ran thousands of suicides to get back here. I came from a time where I was just trying to get range of motion in my knee so I could walk right again.
To get back here tonight and just move was a blessing.
I didn’t even try to use other parts of my game tonight. I didn’t implement my handle or anything like that. I’m just trying to learn the system and get my game legs back first.
I was telling Shannon Brown, I need to get my game rhythm. It’s more than just getting out there and playing, you have to get a rhythm too.
This is my preseason and I’m trying to take advantage of it. The good thing is, that if you work hard enough over the years, your shot doesn’t leave you.
But your shot is connected to your legs, so I have to readjust it to game speed. Everything is fast now, but pretty soon it will slow down.
But when I was in the warm-up line, I knew that all of that rehab and work that I did was worth it. And when I signed that contract with the Suns and they told me that they believed in me, I knew it was worth it.
I’m just grateful. The word that sticks out about tonight: grateful.
Here are some excerpts from his postgame interview that you might also find interesting:
(About his first game): I was a little rusty, which was to be expected, but my wind felt pretty good, surprisingly. I just have to find my game legs, my game rhythm and just try to figure out the system and the offense. I just tried to find my way out there tonight. There is more to it than hitting your first two shots. There’s footing, rhythm, legs and placement on the court. It’s definitely a fun system though. My knees felt fine, I’m just sore because this is like my preseason. Yesterday was my first practice of going up-and-down, full-court, and I hadn’t done that in eight, nine months. So this is all fresh for me. I’m going to continue to keep working to get better.
(On playing his first home back-to-back ever): Coming back tomorrow will be fun. That will be a challenge. Hopefully, the body responds well. Again, it’s like the preseason for me, so I’m going to treat the body and continue to work with our medical staff and get ready for tomorrow. I’m anxious to see how I respond tomorrow too.
(On the Cavs’ Ramon Sessions disbelief that Redd was left open): I hope it’s a secret for the rest of the year. Ramon was a guy that I had as a rookie in Milwaukee, but give Cleveland credit tonight. They made some adjustments, they played well, knocked down some shots when they had to and rebounding hurt us tonight.
(On being the first player off the bench for the Suns tonight): I didn’t know I would get called on that quick. When Dan Majerle said, ‘Hey, Mike.’ I was like, ‘Are you talking to me?’ Fortunately I was able to come in and knock down a couple of shots and get right into the game. It was fun getting out there tonight, unfortunately, we lost. But to come back and play and move pretty well was good.
(On where to find his shots in the offense): Still trying to figure out the system and where I’ll get shots. That’ll take time. It’s just a matter of repetition, and playing. To get out there and actually play was great. I don’t know how many minutes I played tonight but, it felt great to be out there. (someone told him that he played 19 minutes) It felt like 40.
(On what he can bring offensively): I just play basketball, whatever the defense gives. Whether it’s getting to the hole or posting up, whatever. My forte is scoring the basketball. I want to get to the free throw line more, I want to do a lot of things more. My legs have to catch up to what my mind wants to do and that just comes with time.
(On playing small forward): In this system you’re not a 3, you’re just a wing. Shannon (Brown) and I will figure it out or me and JD (Jared Dudley) will figure it out. There were a lot of cross-matches tonight, so we’ll see what happens.