Sixers news: Jameer Nelson played integral role in helping J.J. Redick improve as a player
It might have been four seasons since J.J. Redick played alongside Jameer Nelson as members of the Orlando Magic, but the two have maintained a bond that will surpass their shelf life in the league.
The two first met in 2006 when the Magic had just selected Redick with the 10th pick in the draft. Nelson; who was taken 20th by the Denver Nuggets in 2004 and then traded to the Magic, was three seasons deep in his young NBA career.
While both players appear not to have much in common, they ended up creating a friendship to last well beyond their stint in Orlando.
“They grew up in two different areas, but they’re very similar people,” Stan Van Gundy; who coached Nelson and Redick for five of the seven years they were together in Orlando, told Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “They’re both about winning. That’s what their ego is wrapped up in, not in the numbers they put up or anything else. In terms of character and their values, how they look at things, they are very similar people.”
Redick struggled finding a niche in the NBA, coming off being the Player of the Year in college to being relegated to the bench and failing to log a start in the league until his third season, getting only five nods as a starter.
“I don’t think a lot of guys on that first Orlando team I had as a rookie liked me all that much. I was a little arrogant, like a lot of rookies are. You’re a little naïve to things,” Redick says. “But Jameer, out of all the older guys and established guys on the team, was really good to me in terms of encouraging me, teaching me and trying to keep me positive early in my career when I wasn’t playing.”
“It was probably by the third or fourth year we were together that we really started to develop a bond and by my seventh year there, he and I had become very close, our families were very close and we still are. But I don’t know that anyone could have liked me right away. Sometimes in life, you need to be humbled a little bit.”
Van Gundy called Nelson the single-best teammate he’s ever encountered in his 20 years in the league, noting his attention to detail for team morale and knowing what to do to keep it high. As both Nelson and Redick head into their fourth NBA stop in their careers, the former didn’t shy away from giving his buddy some praise.
“He’s just what the Sixers need,” said a convinced Nelson. “They needed a couple of guys to show the ropes to players who don’t understand yet what it takes to be a professional,” Nelson says. “You have to have a work ethic and you have to be able to handle adversity. He’s an all-around pro.”