Just when that silky smooth jumper of his was starting to fall just the way Michael Redd likes it, the Olympian's injury plagued season came to an abrupt and frustrating end.
The Milwaukee Bucks' leading scorer will miss the rest of the
year with torn ligaments in his left knee.
"I'm deeply disappointed but everything in life happens for a
reason and this is God's plan for me," Redd said in a statement
issued by the team. "I have faith in my teammates and coaches to
continue to work together to make our fans proud. I will be
supporting them wholeheartedly from the sidelines and working
equally hard to return to the court in the best condition possible
for next season."
It's a tremendous blow to a team that has struggled with
injuries all season. The Bucks (22-25) are in third place in the
Central Division. Redd missed 14 games with an ankle injury and
center Andrew Bogut has missed 13 games, including the last six
with back spasms.
"Over half our games have been without two of our main
players," coach Scott Skiles said after the game. "Our guys are
hanging in there. It's not always pretty every night, but we're
hanging in there."
Redd was just starting to look like the player who helped Team
USA reclaim the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last summer.
Having shaken the rust off from that long layoff in November, Redd
was averaging 25.0 points per game in January and shooting better
than 51 percent from the field. He had 27 points, including five
3-pointers, in a 133-99 dismantling of Dallas on Wednesday night.
But in the third quarter of Saturday night's victory over
Sacramento, Redd landed awkwardly on teammate Luke Ridnour's foot
after missing a shot near the basket. Redd had an MRI exam on
Sunday that revealed the extent of the injury. A surgery date has
not been scheduled.
"We're extremely disappointed for Michael. He was having a good
season and he's a guy that's such a big part of what we do,"
general manager John Hammond told The Associated Press on Sunday.
"He's been so supportive of us and Scott as a coach and what we're
trying to do."
Redd leads the team with 21.2 points per game and is fifth on
the franchise career scoring list. The Bucks went 5-9 without him
in November, with Charlie Bell filling in at shooting guard. Bell
hasn't played since Jan. 19 because of a gimpy ankle.
"We did have to play early in the season without him and yes,
this is more long term," Hammond said. "Maybe it does affect the
guys from a mental standpoint, but this is professional basketball.
These things occur and they're going to happen again. Guys have a
responsibility to step up."
Much of the scoring load likely will shift to Richard Jefferson,
the team's second leading scorer (17.3) who came over from New
Jersey in a trade in the offseason.
With the Bucks struggling to get over the .500 mark, Hammond has
talked about trying to make a deal before the trade deadline to
make the team more competitive as it pushes for a playoff spot.
Redd's injury, Hammond said, doesn't change that view.
"We were going to be active in the process before this
happened, and we are going to make the right decision for the
future of the franchise," Hammond said. "There's no (sudden)
reaction because of this. We're going to stay firm with our
approach of improving the team."
The injury could lead to some more playing time for former Wolf Pack star Ramon Sessions.