Thad Young talks about the challenges of educating his two boys during this historic period in America, the new leadership team, and more during his end-of-season conference call with the media on Friday afternoon.
Thad Young has seen more than most in the NBA, certainly more than his Bulls teammates. He's been with five NBA teams. He has played in more than five dozen playoff games, has built a successful financial career for his post playing days and has been regarded as a veteran mentor to young players throughout the NBA. No one among the Bulls players can claim those attributes. Nor can they claim what is most important to Young, his family with two school-aged sons.
The Bulls roster, as young as it is, predictably is filled primarily with single young men. Lauri Markkanen has an infant child, but most of the players are unmarried and still sticking a toe in the murky waters of life. So Young also understood the most worrisome element for him in the current crises roiling the country. How and what do you tell your children when they are treated differently merely because of the color of their skin?
"When they come up with a question, it's very hard to answer that question because I don't want them to have to grow up and fear for their lives or have to grow up and understand that they can't do the same things that other people are doing," Young said Friday during a conference call for media set up by the Bulls. "You want to give your kid the world. You want to get them to understand, ‘Hey, you can do whatever you want to do.' In these times, it's just not the same. You can't do everything that somebody else is doing. If I'm going to be specific about it, the black kid can't do everything that a white kid is doing. Those are things that are very, very tough to talk about. It's a harsh reality and we have to talk about them. My kids are still young, six and nine. They understand certain things that are going on, but not entirely everything.
"For me as a father, that's probably one of the toughest conversations to ever have with your kids," Young acknowledged. "They are having questions because there's so much stuff on social media and so much stuff on YouTube, which is what all the kids are watching now. My youngest son, he asked the other day, ‘Why did they kill that man, daddy?' It's hard for me to answer that question because you don't want to push him into the harsh reality of what it is. But you have to answer all those tough questions and you have to have those tough conversations with your kids. It's definitely hard. What happened is definitely saddening for me, but it also scares me to death because I have two young boys."
Thad Young finished the season averaging 10.3 points per game.
Young acknowledged he wished he and the Bulls were going to Orlando with the chosen 22 teams and was confident he'd be fine. He said his health worries are about family.
"Everybody has a concern about contracting the virus, but you have guys that understand we have to play also in order to keep the league moving forward," Young said. "For me, I worry more along the lines of my family's aspect. We have a young league and a lot of these guys in the league they don't have kids or they don't have a family. They may have a girlfriend that they're dealing with. Besides that, it's just kind of them. My worry is more along the lines of me being with all the other guys and then coming back home to my family. Like what was the exit strategy? I think the league is doing a good job as far as trying to make sure that they keep it as safe as possible as far as going in and getting testing and making sure that guys are social distancing even when they're having leisure time. Making sure that some of our older coaches in the league are wearing the face masks and staying away from everybody else. Some of the questions they said, ‘Look, COVID is here and it's going to be here for awhile until we get some type of vaccine for it.' This is life right now.
"I wanted to play. I wanted to be a part of it," Young reiterated. "But another side of me was worried about being away from my family or if they were to even come down, just me being around everybody, playing basketball and then going back to my family and not knowing if I've contracted the virus or not knowing if my family has contracted the virus. Me personally, I think I can fight it off. But I don't know if my kids would be able to do that. I don't know if my wife would be able to do that. I don't want to put them in harm's way."
Young also discussed other issues, including the fate of coach Jim Boylen:
"That's not really a question for me to answer," Young said. "I think that's more up to the front office. Obviously, Jim is very energetic. He's probably one of the most energetic coaches I've played for. My job is to go out there and basically help lead this team to try to win games and play to the best of my ability each night. That's something you'll have to ask Marc (Eversley) and Arturas (Karnisovas) and let them answer. For me, my job is to go out there and whatever coach I have at the time, let him lead and we follow. He's giving us the game plan and go out there and execute the game plan to the best of our abilities and make sure that we're playing as hard as we can. And for me, make sure the locker room stays together and make sure I help lead the guys and be very encouraging towards the guys."
The new management team: "They've been great. They've both been keeping us abreast of each and every thing that's going on, especially during the time where we were trying to figure out if we could get back in the gym or not or during the time where they were figuring out who's going to Orlando. Calling me each and every day or every other day and just making sure they were very informative. Obviously this is a situation where they can't really do their job because we're not playing basketball and I'm sure they're anxious to really get on the job and get a grasp of things. They've been reaching out and talking to us all and making sure they're staying in sync with us."
Effect of the long layoff: "Just continue to try to work out as best as you can. Like yesterday, we just moved into a new house in Texas. So I was literally putting together a whole floor to get my weight room going. Just doing things that can keep you in basketball shape, which is running outside, running on the treadmill. If you can get into a gym, get into a gym and get some shots up. Obviously, being out for 10 months, rest is always good. I've had a lot of time to rest, so you have to find a way to get some type of work in. For me, being in my 13th season, it's probably added a couple years onto my career being able to sit out for 10 months."