Photo Credit: Sam Grover via Flickr
No one knows what happened the night J.J. Redick ceased to be a human basketball player. Once a finely orchestrated symphony of blood and flesh, muscles stringing limbs into motion, the lifeblood eventually morphed; it became artificial. Never a paragon for humanity or human mistakes, Redick’s current machine-like state was always a matter of full transition. The parts were there; full assembly was just a matter of time, place, or most likely a combination of both.
This is J.J. Redick: A tilted upward sprint, feigning just the right amount of misdirection. A shoulder brushing another with the utmost punctuality; the machine does not allow its screeners to pick up moving screen fouls, to suffer for mistakes born of their good-natured selflessness. That is simply inexcusable. A suppressed roadrunner, feet shoulder-width apart and the elbows, wrists, shoulders, flanking one another at a perfect 90-degree angle. A splash.
J.J. Redick starts after over a month of inaction, curls off a screen, nails his first jumper and the Clippers’ first shot. This is clockwork. The next possession, Redick helps fashion a steal and converts a layup. This is poetry. He shoots 5-of-6 from the floor in the first quarter, scoring 10 points and reclaiming his mantle as the Clippers’ finest first quarter scorer. This is obstinate— a machine allows for degrees of certainty.
A machine will drive again and again, exposing and exploiting all of the old sore places. But what happens when the orderly machine is thrown into a sensitive ecosystem? The ripples can be chaotic: Darren Collison, a beneficiary of ball-handling relief and spacing, delivers one of his best games in a Clippers uniform. Blake Griffin, a superhuman robot unto himself, scores 33 points on 15 shots. The Clippers register their highest point total since early November.
Even chaos— meteoric, satisfying chaos— creates a rhythm. For the Clippers, the only thing more certain than Redick finding open space is Chris Paul or Blake Griffin finding him. That they’ve adjusted so quickly is not just a testament to the chaos theory but to the intelligence of the individuals behind the movement.
But this team is still a byproduct of the guessing games that ensue in ever-changing, uncontrollable habitats. There are new ripples to be discovered, wrinkles to manifest from the plays of yesteryear. For now, J.J. Redick remains his own well-oiled machine; and the Clippers a slowly, unraveling mystery.