JJ Redick keeping playoff goal in perspective as Pelicans prepare for Orlando
On Media Day, JJ Redick jokingly threatened rookie Zion Williamson not to – ahem – “mess up” Redick’s flawless streak of reaching the playoffs for 13 consecutive pro seasons. Nine months later, however, when New Orleans players recently touched base to talk about the NBA’s restart, Redick made it clear that while a playoff berth is still a goal, he won’t view it as catastrophic if it doesn’t happen. Too many other things have occurred in the wider world since Pelicans training camp in the fall.
“When we discussed what we wanted to do, whether we wanted to play (in Orlando), I made it very clear that my playoff streak is insignificant in the grand scheme of things,” Redick said Friday, alluding to the ongoing pandemic and civil unrest in America. “I mean that. I feel like this entire season, this entire year, will have an asterisk next to it. If we make the playoffs or we don’t, I will be at peace either way. Having said that, we’re obviously going down with the intention of making the playoffs. I think so much of the (winning and losing) results in Orlando will be based on who wants to actually be there. I feel very good about the mental makeup of our team (participating).”
Meanwhile, Redick is pleased with the NBA’s recent decision to paint messaging on the three game courts in Orlando, as well as promote those messages on player jerseys, but the shooting guard views those items as secondary to the No. 1 objective: following through with tangible action to address social issues.
“I’m always very appreciative of our league allowing us to use our platform to speak out, be active and be advocates,” Redick said. “I think it’s great that we’re going to have some stuff on the court and potentially on the jerseys. Secondly, I think more importantly, the league, union and players, we’re actively trying to create policy change for communities. Real dollars. And that’s going to happen over the course of any number of years. It’s not going to be a quick change. It’s going to be incremental. But I think that second piece (of action) is more important than us having the ability to write something on the back of our jerseys. The system has to change. Obviously we (also) need to change some of the way we portray, talk about and treat people, but how do we help in creating systemic change?”
Prior to COVID-19 shutting down the NBA in mid-March, Redick had been poised to return to the New Orleans lineup, after he was sidelined for five games due to a hamstring injury. He’s spent the past three-plus months working out six days a week, saying he never got to the point mentally where he believed the season wouldn’t resume. One of his goals during the hiatus was to lose weight. He dropped over 10 pounds.
“I was basically cleared to start running and shooting the day I left New Orleans (in March to return to his offseason home in Brooklyn),” he said of his hamstring injury. “So I was able to train and had access to a gym. I weighed in two days ago at 193. During the season I was 203, 204. I wanted to get back to my Duke playing weight. But I feel healthy and feel good.”