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Thank you J.J. Redick

The wound is still fresh and fans are still upset that J.J. Redick is gone.

Even while Orlando was playing Cleveland, fans were asking for and looking for updates on how their former No. 7 was doing in his new digs. The thought of him wearing Milwaukee red is still such a foreign idea. Disappointingly, the jerseys bearing Redick's former team and jersey number were moved to the clearance racks inside Amway Center.

That does not seem to be a fitting way for Redick to leave. He did not get a curtain call. He did not even play that well, scoring 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting and missing all seven of his 3-point attempts in a disappointing loss to the Bobcats. Instead he was just gone, whisked away while the team was still on the road.

With the trade deadline, there rarely is the time to say good bye. Players are whisked from their teams in the middle of the day and have 48 hours to report to a new city and a new life.

For seven years, J.J. Redick had only known Orlando. It became his home and beam the place that, as he characterized it, he grew up. He became a fan favorite, a team leader and a great presence on the team and in the community.

It seems impossible to think of how far Redick came in seven seemingly short years. He and the Magic seemed like they would be tied at the hip forwever with the way he embraced the community and the way the community came to embrace him.

He took Orlando fans on a really quite amazing journey as he grew up into a true professional player and a key cog to the Magic team.

However, the marriage was not always so nice. And the journey never seemed like a straight line.

The Sports KidRedick was one of the most prolific scorers at Duke, setting the ACC's all-time scoring record before leaving the conference. However there were questions about him entering the draft. Was he too small to play up against NBA shooting guards? Would his shot be able to carry him over alone? Would he or Adam Morrison, the other major college scorer drafted in his class, be able to adjust?

These were legitimate concerns for the Magic. Also considering Redick was drafted the year after Fran Vazquez, there was some pressure to hit on this draft pick. Redick though struggled to deliver and struggled to get off Brian Hill's bench. He played in only 66 games his first two seasons and fans clamored for him to come off the bench more as a joke than an actual request.

The first round pick seemed destined to be another wasted Magic lottery pick and out of the league as quickly as he entered it. It led Redick to request a trade in his third year if he could not get more playing time under new coach Stan Van Gundy.

Otis Smith preached patience though. He told Redick and his agent that he would look into trading him but asked that Redick stick with it and continue to work hard.

That patience for Redick and Smith was rewarded.

Stan Van Gundy implemented an offense that emphasized 3-point shooting and a rolle seemed to be carved out especially for Redick. He just needed to gain Van Gundy's trust defensively (because that is what the team was truly built on). Redick got his chance in the biggest of spots.

Dwight Howard injured Courtney Lee in the first round of the 2009 Playoffs, his elbow fracturing his cheek bone and leaving a big gap at shooting guard. J.J. Redick filled that gap and became a key part of Magic lore. He spent the good chunk of the second round not shooting, but chasing a shooter.

He made his name defensively against Ray Allen in that seven-game second-round series against Boston. In the 2009 Playoffs, Redick played in 16 games and started in eight. He scored 6.0 points per game and shot 37.3 percent from the floor.

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In the early part of his career, those offensive numbers would have rendered Redick ineffective. However, he was a different player now. It had all clicked. And Redick's emergence made it OK to let Courtney Lee go in the Vince Carter trade.

Redick had found his spot in the rotation and he did not let go.

That was not the end of Redick's journey though. He continued to improve and get better. His shooting never left. His defense improved. His passing improved. His leadership improved. He was no longer "just" a shooter.

Those outside the Magic may not have realized it. Even some fans of the Magic probably could not shake their preconceived notions of Redick and his play.

J. Meric/Getty Images/ZimbioRedick grew tremendously as a basketball player and as a person. He was the winner of last year's Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award and a constant presence in the community. He donated half of the prize money from that award to a charity of the fans' choosing.

It was just one of the many signs that Redick had made himself at home in Orlando and had a true connection with the community and the fans. There are not many players in Magic history quite like Redick who have endeared themselves to the fans in this way. Redick will always be welcomed back into the Amway Center and he will always be one of the fan favorites.

It was tough to see him in another team's uniform, taken away from the team in the middle of the night seemingly without that proper good bye.

It is not really a good bye though. Redick will be back in Orlando, as an opponent, in April. When that day comes, Magic fans will get the chance to give him the proper appreciation he deserves. And Orlando will get a real chance to say Thank You, J.J. Redick.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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