CAMDEN, N.J. -- With age comes wisdom. And insight.
So when J.J. Redick of the Philadelphia 76ers looks at the mix of young guys and old guys surrounding him -- some who have been where he has been, some who are not yet old enough to purchase a cocktail -- his words of encouragement are simple, yet complex:
"The opportunity is now."
Redick, 33, was in his third year in the NBA when he went to the 2009 NBA Finals with an Orlando Magic team anchored by Dwight Howard and complimented by an assortment of shooters. The road they traveled to get there was an arduous one, and he remembers it in vivid detail.
"Our first-round series, we lost Game 1 at the buzzer, we lost Game 3 at the buzzer, we're down 2-1 at Philly, (Hedo) Turkoglu had to bank in a 3 at the buzzer for us to win. Dwight gets suspended for Game 5, so had to go to Philly with me and Marcin Gortat starting, on the road for a closeout game, and we pulled that off. Next series we're down 3-2 after Glen Davis hit a buzzer-beater, we've got to win two games, including a Game 7 at Boston on the road against the defending champs. Game 2 against Cleveland we lose at the buzzer. These are all things that happened, and to me it's just 'How do you get to four wins in a series?'"
"It's not about the previous game. You don't get extra points for winning at the buzzer, and you don't get extra points for beating a team by 30. It's all about reacting and winning the next game," Redick told NJ.com Friday as the Sixers prepared to open their first-round series against the Miami Heat on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Tipoff for Game 1 is 8 p.m.
The city of Philadelphia is esctatic that the Sixers have made it this far, with the team heading into the postseason with an unprecedented head of steam - an NBA-record 16 victories to end the regular season.
Redick relishes and appreciated the discernable enthusiasm, but this is a guy who has seen it all before.
The 16-game streak now means nothing.
The Sixers' record is 0-0.
It is a new beginning, and a very different "Process." Don't be mistaken, 16 more consecutive victories would be dandy.
And a 16-12 record by the time this is all finished would be dandy, too.
(And no, Redick did not use the word "dandy." He went to Duke, where that word is probably banned because it is something the students in Chapel Hill would say.)
As noted at the beginning of this column, age brings experience. and experience teaches folks around the NBA that the regular season is a vehicle for lining the owners' and players' pockets with money. The postseason is about separating those who care about winning from those who care about bling.