Darth Bader gets the last laugh

Jake Alsko

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Many record-setting plays seem to develop in distinct, deliberate fashion, but it was only fitting that Oakland University’s Travis Bader broke the all-time NCAA record for 3-pointers so routinely against UW-Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.

Bader puts up so many shots outside of practice that it’d be an aberration if his historic shot went up with any consciousness.

“I practice those shots all the time,” Bader said. “It’s just constant repetition and confidence that I’m going to make every shot.”

Bader broke free courtesy of a quick screen from teammate Joey Asbury, then caught and spotted up immediately, nonchalantly fading from the corner before launching the ball, and himself, into history.

The shot pushed Bader past former Duke star and current Los Angeles Clipper J.J. Redick’s 457 3-point field goals.

“Just being mentioned with the name J.J. Redick is unbelievable for me, especially where I’ve come from,” Bader said. “It kind of just shows the hard work that I put in and it really shows to Oakland University, Coach Kampe, the rest of the coaches and the players that I’ve played with.”

The future

OU head coach Greg Kampe said that Redick was well aware that his record was in danger, and that Redick made a video congratulating Bader that will play during Oakland’s next home game on Thursday, Feb. 6 when they play Cleveland State at 7 p.m.

Bader finished the game with six 3-pointers, pushing his career total to 461 with at least eight more games remaining in his final season in OU black and gold. The 6-foot-5 sharpshooter has made it clear he’s interested playing professionally upon graduation, whether it in the NBA or overseas.

“He can make shots, and that’s going to get the interest of professional leagues, whether that’s in this country or somewhere else,” ESPN’s Andy Katz said. “Scorers always will make money somewhere on the globe.”

Kampe’s guidance

“You’ve got a guy sitting in the room that’s the greatest of all-time at something,” Kampe said. “And we’re not talking about flipping a tiddlywink or something like that. This game’s been played for a long, long time and he’s the best ever.”

It feels a bit ironic and poetic that a player whom no one in Division I basketball but Oakland University pursued ended up becoming the greatest shooter in NCAA history. No one else gave him a chance coming out of high school, but the only shot Bader needed was his own.

Well, his, and Kampe’s.

“I can’t even put it into words, he’s the reason I’m here,” Bader said in an interview with The Post earlier this year. “For me, he’s been everything.

“He’s never satisfied, and that’s good because he’s always pushing me to do more. He’s always there for me off the court if I ever need him, and I have the utmost respect for that man.”

The legacy

Kampe also credited the many others who played less noticeable, but important roles in Bader’s accomplishment.

“I’m not a big guy on individual accolades, but you can’t do this without people setting screens for you, without people passing you the ball, without coaches working with you, without a janitor opening the door for you,” he said. “There are hundreds of people that had a play in him doing this.

“And that’s what’s so cool about it. All of these people that did, for the rest of their lives will be able to talk about this.”

But at the end of the day, no one else can practice Bader’s jump shot for him.

“It’s difficult,” Bader said. “It’s not easy trying to get into the gym as much as I want to and get up at as many shots as want to.

“I don’t think you hear of very many players getting up 500 shots and stuff like that.”

Bader admitted in the post-game press conference that the player in him wanted to win more than anything, and he shouldn’t feel any other way. Some win more than others, but the players who arrive early and leave late usually find themselves in the rafters, one way or another.