“A Poor Man’s Danny Ainge … A Poor Man’s Jeff Hornacek”: Michael Cooper Torches JJ Redick

JJ Redick is not making any new friends with the old-school pro basketball players, as Michael Cooper is the latest to jump on the dump-JJ bandwagon. Cooper, a great from the “Showtime” Lakers era, defended his former rival Larry Bird, who Redick said on a past “First Take” episode, is not one of the greatest three-point shooters ever.

Cooper went straight for JJ’s basketball jugular.

“JJ Redick, who’s a journeyman, played for six different teams, all his accolades came in college,” Cooper said during the opening segment of his “Showtime With Coop” podcast on Monday. “He played 15 years in the NBA, was being shifted around from team to team because all he could do was shoot, and he wasn’t that great of a shooter. He was a poor man’s Danny Ainge.”

Not a poor man’s Danny Ainge. Ouch.

Redick’s Ramble

Sports radio jock Chris “Mad Dog” Russo made a point during a debate in mid-February on ESPN’s “First Take” about the imbalance of NBA play and the neo-importance of the three-point game, where players “give up dunks to shoot threes on fast breaks,” that Larry Bird was, “one of the top five three-point shooters of all time.”

Guest analyst JJ Redick strongly disagreed, setting off NBA veterans like Dominique Wilkins, who said Redick’s statement was “idiotic.”

During the ’80s heyday of basketball rivalries, Cooper guarded Bird in the intense rivalries between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. He won two championships and lost one to Bird and knows first-hand the sharpshooter prowess of Larry Bird. Cooper immediately critiqued today’s game, where a softer touch is required to avoid the myriad penalties.

“In today’s NBA game, I don’t know what game he’s looking at; you can’t touch the guy,” Cooper continued. “Anytime you touch the guy, a three-point shooter, or come close to them when they’re landing, it’s a foul.”

Ironically, Cooper’s dissection of today’s NBA’s lack of 1980s physicality is how Bird says he prefers it.

“I really like the game now,” Bird said in February 2018 to Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star. “I really think they cleaned it up as far as the grabbing, the holding, the cheap shots,” the forward explained. “When you’re out there playing, you like to have freedom, and they have that now.”

Michael Cooper. (Phot: Patrick McDermott/Getty)

Hanged By Mr. Cooper

For Cooper, any disrespect of Bird or his era is unacceptable, and after Dominique Wilkins checked him, Coop felt the need to pile on the shade.

“JJ Redick needs to be quiet. I think he’s gotten out of this what he wants to — his name being thrown around, the attention, and all that. You know what, the attention is something he’s not going to want. A lot of former players — myself, along with Dominique — talk about this guy, who’s a poor man’s Jeff Hornacek.

“You can’t say this by watching game film. You have to talk to the players who lived it. I lived it. Larry Bird is one of the best three-point shooters that’s ever played this game. F**k percentages. It ain’t about that. It’s about hitting big shots, things (Redick) couldn’t do as a player without getting a pick set for him.”

The repercussions of JJ Redick’s Bird statement are back to haunt him, and it doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon.

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