JJ Redick on Media Day

Off the Court: Pelicans guard JJ Redick

by Jim Eichenhofer

One of New Orleans’ more active players during the NBA’s hiatus, JJ Redick hosts a regular podcast for The Ringer and has begun tweeting much more frequently recently, discussing a vast array of subjects. In early April, the 14-year NBA veteran and wife Chelsea made a significant donation to aid New Orleans residents and displaced Smoothie King Center employees, while acknowledging the impact the Crescent City has made on their family since arriving last summer. The Pelicans’ most experienced player delved into his background with Pelicans.com:

How he chose his current uniform number of 4: “That’s an interesting story. I chose 4 because I wore it as a freshman in high school. The reason I chose it (then) was because I visited Duke – not as a recruit, but as just a fan with a buddy. His dad took us over to the Duke football game, and that trip was my first time in Cameron (Indoor Stadium, home of the Blue Devils basketball team). I walked into Cameron, looked up and saw all the banners. At the time, I’d only ever worn No. 25. When I looked up in the rafters and saw Art Heyman’s No. 25 jersey, I said, ‘I’m going to have to pick a different number.’ Keep in mind, Duke was not recruiting me. Never sent me a letter. At this point, they didn’t even know who I was. At that point, I hadn’t even played a high school basketball game yet. So I based everything off Art Heyman’s Duke jersey being retired. Then when you’re a freshman at Duke on the varsity team, you literally get the last number chosen. I basically got stuck with 4. But it’s been my favorite number ever since.”

One thing fans might be surprised to know about him: “That I’m actually extremely introverted, which sounds weird coming from someone who hosts his own podcast and does public-speaking events and plays in the NBA, having to play in front of a million people. But I actually much prefer to lay low and almost be alone. I enjoy my alone time.”

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “Any sort of wood-fired or wood-grilled oysters.”

Pregame ritual: “If I were to list all of my pregame rituals, your (recorder) would run out of battery. I have a little bit of OCD about things. So it’s not so much that I have superstitions; it’s that I have to do these certain things. Truthfully – and this is not an exaggeration – but my pregame ritual starts when I wake up in the morning and goes until after the game. There are a series of things I do on gameday and they’re all very odd – well, not all of them, I obviously stretch, do core activation and shoot some shots (for example) – but the rest of it is just odd.”

Favorite athletes as a kid: “For basketball, obviously it was Michael Jordan. I was 10, 12, 13, 14 when he was winning championships for the Bulls. My other favorite athlete was (MLB slugger) Manny Ramirez. I loved baseball and my dad was from Cleveland, so I grew up an Indians fan. Then (Ramirez) got traded or signed with the Red Sox in 1999 or 2000, so from that time on, I became a Boston Red Sox fan, which is so weird. But Manny Ramirez was my favorite baseball player.”

Favorite basketball memories from childhood: “I have the memory of an elephant, so what do you want to know? [smiles] I remember it all. My first real basketball memories were playing in the backyard-slash-driveway at our house in Roanoke, Virginia. My sisters started playing basketball – and I did everything that they did – so I started playing with them. Our court was slanted going down toward the left. There was a tree branch in the left corner, so to shoot a three from the left side, you really had to put a lot of arc on the shot. It was about a third grass, a third dirt, and a third gravel, so it was really hard to dribble on the court. That’s the court where I grew up literally dreaming about playing at Duke, dreaming of playing in the NBA, pretending to be a Duke player, pretending to be an NBA player. I’d be out there for hours at a time.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “That’s a great question. If I wasn’t an athlete or I had never picked up any ball and played sports, my guess is I would’ve gone into the military. That’s my best guess.”

First job: “I worked at Spring Run Swim Club (in Roanoke), in the snack bar.”

Story behind his tattoos: “I like my sleeve (on his left arm), which I started getting done in 2015. It took four sessions, 18 hours total. It’s a winged man, a winged lion, a winged ox and an eagle. They represent the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Each of the symbols represents each individual gospel, and the reason for picking that symbol has to do with core tenets of Christianity and who Christ was. These were symbols that the early church developed 2,000 years ago. Then next to it I have a random song lyric, which was there before the sleeve, and I wish I could get that lasered off (now), because I don’t even listen to this band anymore that has this song. (When I look at it now), it’s like, ‘What?’ At one time I met the drummer from the band and I was like, ‘Hey man, how are you? No, I don’t have your song lyric on my arm permanently! I don’t have that!” (Editor’s Note: various tattoo websites have noted that the band and song lyric related to that particular ink is Kings of Leon)

Biggest lesson from playing basketball: “Discipline. If you want to be good at something, you have to be good in your approach. You have to work at it, you have to practice at it, you have to love it. You have to be essentially consumed by it and diligent about pursuing something that you enjoy. Part of that is just having the discipline to do it over and over and over again.”

Favorite way to exercise besides playing basketball: “Lifting weights, Pilates, yoga, swimming, running, walking, hiking, golfing, tennis. And chasing my kids around. That’s actually a big one.” [smiles]

Favorite healthy food: “I’ve got to be honest with you, I love all super foods. I love avocado, I love kale. But the one food I eat a ton of, especially during the season, is beets. I eat beets every day during the season, and I drink crystallized beet powder before every game. I’m a big beet guy. Big beet guy.”

Mentors: “I’ve had a bunch of different mentors, during different periods of my life. Timing means so much. My mentors in high school, college and the NBA I value very much. If I had to say one mentor for my entire life it would be my father. He’s a knowledge bank of wisdom and provides a lot of clarity and a sounding board, whenever I’m making a life decision.”

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