Did a viral clip on ‘First Take’ help J.J. Redick land the Lakers job?

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read

After several dramatic twists and turns, J.J. Redick eventually wound up as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, with ESPN Radio personality Evan Cohen pointing to an appearance by Redick on “First Take” in February as the thing that started it all.

Cohen explained his thoughts.

“I think there is an exact moment where…looking back on it, I personally look back on it and say that’s the moment he got hired by the Lakers,” said Cohen. “It’s not yesterday, it was February 21. February 21, J.J. Redick went on ‘First Take’ and this is when he got the L.A. Lakers job. He makes those comments, it goes viral. Less than one month later, he starts the podcast with LeBron James.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are finishing up their season. They are watching Darvin Ham coach their team. They are looking at LeBron James and Anthony Davis not paying attention to him. LeBron starts the podcast with J.J. Redick, I believe, due to those words. J.J. Redick and LeBron James start the podcast on March 18. From March 18 until yesterday, speculation starts to ramp up. And then he gets the head-coaching job. If J.J. Redick doesn’t say that to Stephen A. Smith, I don’t know that he is the head coach of the Lakers.”

Redick, who was thought to be a contender for the job from the moment Ham was fired last month, reportedly is receiving a four-year deal to become the Lakers’ next head coach. The agreement comes after Dan Hurley turned down an offer from the Lakers and chose to remain the head coach at the University of Connecticut.

Other candidates for the Lakers job reportedly included James Borrego and Sam Cassell, but neither of them share a podcast with James. Redick will be leaving ESPN, where he gained lots of exposure in his media career and got to be part of the network’s top NBA broadcasting team.

Redick’s duties calling the 2024 NBA Finals ended with the Boston Celtics’ Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. One report indicated that the Lakers offered the job on June 20, three days after the Celtics wrapped up the championship and 10 days after Hurley spurned L.A.

A former journeyman of six NBA teams, Redick reportedly has been operating as the head coach of the Lakers since the NBA Finals ended, though an official announcement has not yet been made.

In summary, back in February, Redick had a heated appearance on “First Take” as Cohen mentioned. Cohen said that viral exchange started the former NBA player’s path toward his first head-coaching job. Cohen seems to think those remarks led to Redick and James launching their “Mind the Game” podcast together in March, which ignited the speculation that Redick would eventually replace Ham, who, in his second season, reportedly lost the faith of his players for multiple reasons.

The idea of the Lakers hiring another head coach with no experience has been met with skepticism in some circles. But the organization must believe that Redick can provide a long-term answer and end the constant turnover that has seen it go through seven head coaches (including one interim head coach) since Phil Jackson’s departure following the 2010-11 NBA season.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.