Podcast of the Week: THE J.J. REDICK PODCAST
As I write this, J.J. Redick is preparing for the NBA playoffs, which begin this weekend. It’s been a year of crazy change for the 33-year-old shooting guard, who signed a one-year, $23 million contract in the off-season that sent him from the Clippers to the 76ers. But that wasn’t the only major change: Redick’s podcasting desires have seen him bounce around, first with Yahoo Sports’ THE VERTICAL, which ran through most of 2016, and then an extremely brief stint on the Uninterrupted network with the cleverly named CHRONICLES OF REDICK, before finally finding a home on The Ringer’s podcast network this past fall. While it may not be a multi-million dollar deal or a potential trip to the Eastern Conference Championships, it’s been an exciting and rocky series of developments in its own right.
While the athlete-hosted podcast has become less of a novelty in recent times (see: C.C. Sabathia’s R2C2 or Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye’s ROAD TRIPPIN’), Redick seems to take this seriously, possessing a professionalism and a poise on mic that is no doubt preparing him for a (rapidly approaching) life after basketball. What that life will look like is unclear, and the bluntly titled THE J.J. REDICK PODCAST doesn’t offer up any answers in that regard. ROAD TRIPPIN’, unquestionably the hoop-head Holy Grail for behind-the-scenes looks at basketball personalities, works because of its freewheeling conversational format. A natural yang to Richard Jefferson’s ying, Redick adopts a different kind of approach, implementing a more WTF-style formula and booking guests that sometimes stretch pretty far outside the world of basketball, from Hollywood types like Jason Sudeikis, M. Night Shyamalan, and James Corden, to renowned chef Grant Achatz and soccer player Thierry Henry.
Certainly most of Redick’s conversations skew towards the average NBA fan, and the guests do tend to reflect that. While the conversations are a tad more direct and focused than Jefferson’s on ROAD TRIPPIN’, hearing Kyrie Irving discuss his flat earth theories or Ray Allen wax nostalgic on his role in the classic HE GOT GAME occasionally shows Redick is just as interested in capturing NBA culture as he is breaking down playing philosophy or player histories. And with his non-basketball guests, Redick uses the old adage “Athletes Wanna Be Rappers, Rappers Wanna Be Athletes” to his advantage, finding ways to discuss people’s careers as well as their relationship to basketball—while I’m sure someone like Shyamalan doesn’t mind doing press, he unquestionably did the podcast to discuss Philadelphia sports and his relationship to the 76ers, which makes the conversation that much more electric. Those interviews become the show’s calling card, accessible to anyone outside of the world of sports, and present a different kind of conversation that shifts the normal power dynamic between interviewer and interviewee by positioning Redick as someone who can be both host and idol.
As The Process reaches its conclusion, with Philadelphia locking up a #3 seed and taking on the Miami Heat, it’s unclear how much Redick will be recording over this playoff run. Even as it currently stands, the podcast is clearly second to the $23 million day job (which, let’s be honest, makes sense). But in spite of its sporadic release schedule, it’s a great podcast for NBA fans and worthy of a look-in by those just interested in hearing the relationship between athlete and fan play out over an insightful conversation.