The Golden State Warriors won their NBA-record 50th consecutive home game Wednesday, but they have bigger fish to fry.
The record the Warriors are chasing is the single-season mark of 72 victories, set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Right in the middle of the pursuit for NBA fame is Draymond Green, who won two state championships at Saginaw High, became an All-America player at Michigan State and found fame and fortune in the NBA helping the Warriors win the NBA title last spring.
Rooting like crazy for Green and the Warriors is Brad Redford.
“Oh, yeah, you have to,” Redford said. “Obviously because of that connection with Draymond, and it’s cool to see a guy from Michigan and the Saginaw area doing what he’s doing at the NBA level.”
Redford is the reason there is one thing missing from Green’s résumé: Mr. Basketball.
This season’s Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award will be presented Monday at the Free Press, and over the years there have been some surprising winners. Redford was one of them.
The year was 2008, and Green was the overwhelming preseason choice as the state’s No. 1 player.
The MSU-bound senior had already led Saginaw High to one state championship and was well on his way to a second title.
It seemed like a mere formality that Green would be named Mr. Basketball, and the voting would not be close.
And then Steph Curry came along.
Well, it wasn’t exactly that Steph Curry, the one who is generally regarded as the most amazing basketball player on the planet these days and just so happens to be Green’s current teammate.
The Steph Curry we’re referring to is 6-foot Brad Redford, who was a senior at Frankenmuth in 2008, when he put together a Steph Curry-like season long before Steph Curry began having Steph Curry-like seasons.
As preposterous as it sounds now, given Green’s All-America status at MSU, selection as an NBA All-Star and after playing such an instrumental role in the Warriors’ NBA championship last season, Redford seemed to be a logical choice for a lot of high school coaches who voted on the award.
After beginning the season ranked No. 3 in the state behind Green and Romulus’ Dominique Buckley, Redford averaged a Curry-like 36.7 points a game and made a state-record 102 consecutive free throws, second-best nationally.
His 953 points that season are still the second most in state records and he set the state record for free throw shooting in a season (201-for-207, 97.1%) and career free-throw shooting (467-for-500, 93.4%) and three-point baskets in a season (143).
Redford, who had signed with Xavier, was very much a player of consequence back then and he grew up playing AAU ball with Green.
They played together on the Road Runners before high school and then were teammates for three years on the Michigan Mustangs and became close friends.
“You get to a point where guys go their separate ways,” Green said during the NBA All-Star weekend. “Through college, we kind of lost contact, but he’s always been a good friend of mine and always will be.”
Redford has always been one of Green’s biggest fans, and is even more so now.
“For me, watching him play and being around him, his mental side is just so strong,” said Redford, 25, who operates Brad Redford Basketball in the Cincinnati area. “And he’s such a confident kid and he believes in himself and he hasn’t let anybody tell him he couldn’t do anything.”
But he wasn’t Mr. Basketball, despite his preseason designation as the state’s best player.
Looking back on it. Green never stood a chance once a video of Redford hit YouTube.
Sharon Bade was Frankenmuth’s volleyball coach, and she videotaped all of Frankenmuth’s games when Redford was a player.
She edited some of Frankenmuth’s games into a highlight tape of Redford’s season and his older brother, Dan, decided it should go on YouTube.
It didn’t take long before the clip went viral, or as much as anything could go viral back in 2008.
The video, which as of Friday morning has been seen 117,409 times, shows Redford hitting shots from … Steph Curry-range.
“With in the first couple of days it had 50,000 hits and we just put it out for fun,” Redford said, laughing. “We were just messing around. The footage in the highlights is only from four games. We didn’t really pull a lot. We just took four games, put it together, put some music behind it and that was it. There wasn’t a whole lot of glitz and glamour behind it.”
Suddenly Redford was more than just a rumor of some guy on the east side of the state who was having a terrific season.
“I don’t know if people knew how I was getting those numbers,” Redford said. “I think the visual added that ‘Wow!’ factor that kind of helped propel people to put me in the conversation. Before the video came out people were definitely talking about me, but that allowed people to visually see how I was scoring.”
Redford is still astonished and even puzzled at how so many people watched the video.
“That was before anybody was on Twitter or any type of social media,” he said. “That was before any of that. We just put it on YouTube. If there was Twitter back then, it would have been way bigger than it was, I think.”
It was big enough to allow Redford to win the award. Coaches vote for three candidates and points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Redford totaled 1,402 points and Green had 1,245 points.
Although voting totals for every year are not available, the closest vote is believed to have been in 1996 when Detroit Pershing’s Winfred Walton edged Flint Northern’s Mateen Cleaves, 579-566.
“It was obviously something I look back on with a lot of happiness,” Redford said. “It was a really cool moment for me.”
At the time, Redford’s numbers cast a shadow over Green and whatever anything another other player in the state was accomplishing.
“The numbers were just gaudy, they were big,” Redford said. “The records I had set — I think a bunch of them still stand. You don’t go out playing trying to win that award. It just kind of naturally happened. I stayed in the zone for pretty much the whole year.”
The day before the winner was announced, Redford received a congratulatory phone call from … Green.
“We just had a great amount of respect for each other,” Redford said. “We both had great years. I was able to win it, which was pretty cool. I’m sure at this time he could care less about the Mr. Basketball award.”
Truth be told, losing Mr. Basketball to Redford was not a big issue to Green even back then.
A former Detroit News columnist attended the state semifinals a few days after the Mr. Basketball ceremony and several times tried to get Green to say he should have been named Mr. Basketball or to criticize the coaches who did not vote for him, but Green wanted none of it.
Even today, it isn’t much of an issue to the NBA All-Star, although it did provide Green with added motivation.
At the NBA All-Star weekend, Green was asked about finishing second to Redford.
“Brad was incredible,” Green said. “The way he was shooting the ball, the numbers he was putting up, some of the stuff he was doing had never been done before. It was incredible, so it wasn’t like: ‘Oh, man, that shouldn’t have happened.’
“I thought I should have won Mr. Basketball, but he was just as deserving, maybe more deserving than me. But obviously a lot of that stuff fueled me. You take that fuel, and you get in the gym, and you work, work.”
Though Redford’s career did not parallel Green’s career to All-America status, he certainly had his moments at Xavier.
As a freshman he set a school record in leading the Atlantic 10 in three-point percentage (46.5%). Injuries — a fractured hip and reconstructive knee surgery — hampered the rest of his career, although as a redshirt senior, Redford returned to form, again leading the A-10 in three-point percentage (44.6%)
While working on his MBA at Xavier, Redford developed “BeDfrent Player Development,” which is part of Brad Redford Basketball. He is based in Cincinnati, but has run camps and clinics in Michigan and Illinois.
He also provides color commentary on Northern Kentucky home games for ESPN 3 and does a pregame show for season ticket holders at Xavier for home games. He also hosts a local radio show Sunday nights.
“I’m still in the mix,” Redford said. “I guess the basketball side of me won’t ever completely go away so I find my way to stay in it at some level. It’s been fun for me working as a coach and instructor and working on the TV side has helped me stay in the game. The transition from a player to the other side takes some time. I’m in a better place now and more comfortable with where things are heading.”
One thing that has not changed is that Redford can still hit a three-point shot.
“I can still shoot it,” he said, laughing. “I think that’s the one thing I don’t think that will completely go away. If I stepped out and shot 100 threes, I’d probably make 95 or 98 still just about every time.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
The 2016 Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award winner will be announced at 1 p.m. today at the Detroit Free Press. Click on freep.com/sportsto follow our livestream of the event as well as complete coverage of this year’s recipient.