MILWAUKEE For 11 seasons, Michael Redd representeda lot of things to Milwaukee Bucks fans.
He was a poster boy for hard work, going from an unheralded second-round pickto a franchise cornerstone and an All-Star. He was a fan favorite, capable ofputting 20 points on the board on any given night, with a sweet shot that wasthe envy of many.
Down the stretch though, whether warranted or not, he represented a series ofpoor financial decisions and a player who was grossly overpaid, one who wasinjured more often than healthy and somebody whose best days were behind him.
Redd returned to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee Tuesday night as a visitingplayer for the first time in his professional career. Now with the PhoenixSuns, Redd is eager to prove he still has enough strength left in histwice-repaired knees to support a 32-year-old body while still producing at theNBA level.
Being back in Milwaukee was a pleasant experience for Redd, who had nothing butgood things to say about the fans, the city and organization especially Sen.Herb Kohl, the Bucks' owner. Before the game, the team played a tribute videoto Redd on the scoreboard and he was greeted with a warm ovation from the crowdof 13,203 when he entered the game with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.
"What an honor," Redd said. "I wasn't expecting that. The cityof Milwaukee and the fans have been great to me. Sen. Kohl has been wonderfulto me and my family. I will always be grateful to him and this city.
Redd scored 12 points in the half on 6-of-10 shooting and finished the gamewith 14 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of work, looking a lot like hisold self before the injury, of course in the process.
"People who know me and watched me play over the years, they know that'swhat I do," Redd said. "Tonight was no different. I'm just gettingcomfortable with the offense. Tonight was special, though, I wanted to come outand play well."
It was another strong outing for Redd, who made his first start in nearly twoyears on Saturday, scoring 17 points in 23 minutes as the Suns beat Charlotte 95-89.He followed that up with 10 points off the bench in a 99-90 win at Atlanta on Mondaynight.
After making the Saturday start, Redd called it one of the proudest moments ofhis career.
"Knowing where I came from the last couple years, to get to the pointwhere I can play at this level again was a miracle," Redd said. "Thatwas a proud moment."
He signed with Phoenix on Dec. 29, 2011, agreeing to a one-year contract forthe veteran's minimum of 1.3 million. Redd's season debut came Jan. 12, in a101-90 loss to Cleveland. He scored 12 points that night of 4-of-9 shooting in19 minutes.
Overall, Redd has appeared in 12 games this season, and is averaging 5.5 pointsin 12 minutes of action. As he continues to shake off the rust and get backinto full-game shape, Suns head coach Alvin Gentry expects Redd's playing timeto increase.
"The guy works extremely hard and he's getting himself back into All-Starform," Gentry said. "You could see a glimpse of it tonight and Ithink you'll see more of it as the year goes on."
In many ways, Redd looks at his efforts to get back to the NBA as a reflectionof his overall career.
"That's kind of been the story of my career, just over-achieving climbing over mountains," Redd said. "When people say you can't dosomething, that kind of motivates me to do it. But I always knew I could getback to this point."
The 43rd overall choice in the 2000 NBA draft, Redd appeared in just six gamesas a rookie while the Bucks, led by Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassellreached the Eastern Conference finals.
After the 2002 season, Redd became an unrestricted free agent and signed afour-year, 12 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks. The Bucksultimately matched the Mavericks' offer, and Redd evolved into one of thegame's leading scorers.
He was named to the 2004 NBA All-Star team and finished that season among theleague leaders in games played (82), field goals (633), points per game (21.7)and field-goal attempts (1,439) and finished the season by being named to theAll-NBA third team and leading the Bucks into the playoffs for the second consecutiveyear.
Redd followed that up with another statistically impressive season in 2004-05,scoring 23.0 points per game, but the Bucks finished 30-52 and missed theplayoffs. That summer, Redd signed a new contract, worth six years and 91million, passing on the opportunity to return home to Ohio and play alongsideLeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That contract would come to define Redd during his final years in Milwaukee.
He appeared in 75 games that season and 80 the next, but injuries plagued himover the final three seasons of the deal, limiting him to just 61 games overthat stretch.
He suffered a torn ACL and MCL on Jan. 25, 2009, missing the remainder of thatseason. He recovered in time to open the 2009-10 season on the roster but toreboth ligaments again, in the same knee, in a Jan. 10, 2010 game against the Lakers.
After exercising an 18.3 million option on his contract, Redd finally returnedto the court in March of last season. He appeared in 10 games and averaged 4.4points in 13.4 minutes per night.
His 11-year Milwaukee career ended with him ranking among the franchise leadersin points (fourth, 11,554); scoring average (fifth, 20.0); field goals (seventh,4,063); free throws (second, 2,425); 3-pointers (second, 1,003) and gamesplayed (seventh, 578).
Redd also holds the franchise single-game record for points in a game, set onNov. 11, 2006, when he scored 57 against the Utah Jazz at the Bradley Center.