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Transcript: Pelicans guard JJ Redick media availability - July 3, 2020
On the overall outlook of how the NBA is handling the social justice movement:
"I think number one I'm always very appreciative of our league, our union, our leadership amongst players, allowing us to use our platform to express ourselves, to speak out, to be active, and be advocates. I think it's great that we're going to have some stuff on the court, potentially some stuff on our jerseys. Secondly, I think, more importantly, the league, the union, players were actively trying to create policy change and invest in black communities…real dollars. And that's going to happen over the course of any number of years. It's going to not be a quick change; it's going to be incremental, but I think that second piece is more important than us having the ability to write something on the back of our jersey. The system has to change. Obviously, we need to change some of the ways that we portray, the way that we talk about, the way that we treat people, but the system itself needs to change. I think that's the more important piece for our league, is ‘How do we help in creating systemic change?’"
On the decision to go to Orlando and to be away from his family for at least five weeks:
"I feel like I have a responsibility to my team. I feel like I have a responsibility to the league. I feel like I have a responsibility to the younger guys who are trying to earn their livelihoods. I mean, I knew that if we were going to play as a league, I was going to play. The only part that was difficult was and is navigating what we're doing in regards to ‘Black Lives Matter’, in regards to the social justice movement. That's more of the thought process, is ‘How are we doing things there?’ In regards to my family, it's more than five weeks. It's two weeks here in New Orleans. It's five weeks, six weeks in Orlando, potentially eight, potentially 10, potentially 12. I mean, you start adding it up, and you're looking at 2-3 months with no contact with your kids and your wife. That's a very emotionally daunting thought, is to just be away from them for that long."
On why he feels the responsibility to speak up for the Black Lives Matter movement:
"I would say, first of all, I don't think it's just been the last few weeks. I have felt, like a lot of people, more of a need and a pull to speak up since George Floyd was murdered, but this is not something that is like new for me. I don't think it's new for me, and a lot of the stuff that Chelsea and I have done in the past has not been public, and that's been intentional. I think in trying to listen, especially listen to black voices, you have to figure out where you should step aside, and when you should speak up, and where you should act. We are all figuring that out in real-time, but just having the basic human emotion of empathy, I think it's very easy to say 'Alright I need to speak up. I need to act. I need to help. I need to listen', or whatever it may be. Some of it is just that, having empathy, honestly."
On how the player's coalition was formed and the plans for that organization moving forward:
"Honestly, it all happened pretty quickly. Mrs. Benson and execs from the Saints and some execs from the Pelicans sort of took the lead in getting this together, and they just asked a few players if we wanted to be a part of this. Obviously, it's an open invite to any player that wants to help. We've had a number of email exchanges. We just have in the last few days, sort of a timeline of what it looks like for basically the next two months in us trying to figure out action plans. Again, we are in the initial stages of this, and we're trying to figure out what exactly we want to focus on, specifically in New Orleans and Louisiana, and how we can help change things."
On what his plan is to fill the time in Orlando and what he expects from Zion Williamson in Orlando:
"First question. For me personally, I think it will be a lot of pool time. I'm hoping on non-game days that we don't have that typical 2-3 o'clock 30-minute thunderstorm that we always get in Central Florida. I'm hoping for clear skies. The last few summers, July and August have always been about getting a great tan in The Hamptons, so this year now it's going to be getting a great tan in Orlando. No, in all seriousness, I plan on bringing a ton of books down there. I'll be doing my podcast down there. [I] might play a little golf. I'm definitely going to try and catch up with some of the guys around the league that I don't get to see as much as I'd like. In regards to Zion, the expectation is he is going to sort of pick up where he left off. The key for him is his body and just being in shape. As you saw yesterday, it was all over my timeline. He looks fantastic. I've actually been rooming with Jrue (Holiday) since I've been back because our lease only ran through the school year. I don't have a place to stay, so I've been living with Jrue, so I've gotten two days so far out at his pool…getting a base tan down before Orlando.”
On how important is it to continue his streak of making the playoffs every year of his NBA career:
"When we discussed this as a team about what we wanted to do – whether we wanted to play, what that would look like – I made it very clear that my playoff streak was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and I truly mean that. I feel like this entire season, this entire year has an asterisk next to it, and if we make the playoffs or we don't make the playoffs, I will be at peace either way. Having said that, we're obviously going down with the intention of making the playoffs and hopefully making a run. I think so much of Orlando and the results in Orlando will be about who actually wants to be there, and I feel really good about the mental makeup of our group right now."
On his outlook at the NBA potentially not allowing some coaches in the 'bubble' due to COVID-19:
"That is way above my pay grade. I have no opinion. I would just say that health matters most, and any decision should be based on that."
On how Alvin Gentry and his personality has bonded with such a young Pelicans roster:
"I think a lot of it is just his personality. He's fairly even-keeled, and he doesn't get too high, doesn't get to low. He's been around the NBA long enough to understand you're going to hit some rough patches. One of the most remarkable things about our season was that we had this 13-game losing streak. In the middle of that losing streak when typically, guys would be pointing fingers, coaches would be pointing fingers, it seemed to me like it was more about let's all put our heads together, and problem solve and Alvin was obviously a big part of that. The leaders amongst the players were a big part of that. Our coaching staff was a part of that. Griff (David Griffin) and Trajan (Langdon) were a part of that. Everybody wanted to solve the problem together as opposed to, let's blame this guy, or let's blame this guy. It's one of the reasons that after that losing streak we had a really good run and some big wins."
On the growth of the Pelicans as the season went on and how quickly he thinks it will take to get back to that as the season resumes:
“I can’t answer that question. No one really knows what any team is going to look like. The layoff from mid-March up until basically July 10 of not playing real basketball is significant. Not having proper training, not really being able to access great food all the time, all these things that we’ve become so accustomed to – and we’re blessed to have these resources – just haven’t been there. So for our team, I have no idea. We’re here at the practice facility, I don’t see half of my team when I come in. I don’t know if you guys understand that. I come in in the morning with the morning group and I see half of my
team. I don’t see Brandon (Ingram) or Lonzo (Ball). July 10, we’ll start practicing and you can probably ask me then. I have no idea.”
On how he felt about the team leading up to the hiatus:
“We were within striking distance of the eighth seed. I felt like we definitely had some momentum there, but again it seemed like every time people would count Memphis out or count Portland out or Sacramento, these teams would make a run. So we’re one of a handful of teams there that have a chance at that eighth seed.”
On losing weight and recovering from his hamstring injury:
“The hamstring, I was basically cleared to start moving and shooting the day I left New Orleans. That was exactly three weeks, so I was able to train. I had access to a gym. I weighed in yesterday – or two days ago when they weighed us – at 193. I was usually around 204-205 this season. I lost over ten pounds. That was intentional by the way. I actually wanted to get back to my Duke playing weight. I feel healthy, I feel good. I don’t know if you guys know, but I just turned 36 so that starts to hit a little different as you get older. But I feel good.”
On how important it was for he and other NBA players to train on their own during the pandemic:
“I think it was really important. I’ve talked to a bunch of different guys on my team, I’ve talked to guys around the league. I think everybody sort of went through those three months a little bit differently. I feel like, for me, I never really shut off. Some of that was because I was coming off of injury. I went up to New York and I quarantined for that 10 to 14 day period, and then I got back to the gym (and was) pretty much on the court for six days a week for three months. I talked about resources. It’s not like I could train with my trainer, so he was sending me workouts and I was trying to fit it in when I could. I got really adept at using a slow cooker so I had meal prep done at the beginning of every week so that I could get my normal nutrients in. But every guy is different. I know some guys actually took time off and sort of used this as a vacation. I feel like, for me, I just never really mentally checked out. It’s just been one long All-Star break I guess. Actually, that’s a terrible analogy. Normally during All-Star break 130,000 people don’t die, so scrap that one. But for me mentally, in regards to the season I never really shut off.”
On the tangible measures the players want the NBA and the teams to take in order to support social justice causes and the process of presenting those:
“I assume you’re talking about that group of players that were on those two phone calls. I was not on the first call. I was on the second call, which I know maybe some of you in the media were on that call as well it seemed like. Some guys were being quoted verbatim. So I was on the second call. In between those two calls, I actually got notes from the first call. I reached out to some guys and got some notes from the first call, and it was apparent right away that these tangible measures that you were talking about were not only important, but more than reasonable. I think that is was really key for every player that the league and the Players Union, that we sort of joined together and figured out a way to take action. In regards to specifics and what is being presented to the league and what the league is coming back with, I’m not in those discussions. I do know for a fact that they’re happening and there are things in motion. Again, that’s not something that’s going to just happen overnight. The money has to be there, and that’s a whole process. Once the money is there, the board – whoever is on the board…my understanding is that there will be a mix of players on the board, as well as executives and owners – will figure out where that money gets allocated amongst grass roots organizations and in certain black communities. I know the league is actively taking those steps that a lot of players wanted. Number one, I commend that group of guys taking leadership on that. I think it was phenomenal and I commend the league for listening and moving in that direction.”
On how the players went from wanting ‘something’ to wanting something specific in regards to NBA action on social justice:
“That’s probably a question that I can’t answer. I know because I’ve talked to all of them, but our leadership at the (Players) Union is on this and they have been much more specific in terms of what it is we want. I know Kyrie (Irving) has been a part of that too…not just on the executive committee, but also in separate conversations that he has had with people around the league. I know he has taken some action on it as well. There have been specifics where I think enough guys have felt like we can move forward with this.”
On playing without fans and where the team can find energy:
“There’s going to be a lot of interesting subplots to this experience in Orlando. I think the most interesting will be playing an NBA game with no fans. I think it’s going to be very surreal, almost eerie. It could provide a very unique viewing experience on television. I’m not sure. I will say that I’ve played in those arenas and on those courts before in AAU and high school. I won a couple of national championships down there in Orlando, so I feel comfortable playing there. But it will be surreal.”
On how surprised he is that the season is resuming after everything that has transpired in the past few months and his comfort level in the functionality of the NBA’s return to play heading into Orlando:
“Like a lot of people, it seemed like – especially those first couple of months – there were really good days of hope and optimism…not just in regards to having a season, but in regards to COVID. Then there were days that you just felt down and you felt that feeling of despair. We started seeing that momentum that we were going to maybe play. It seemed like we had bend the curve a little bit, and then all of the sudden George Floyd gets murdered, Breonna Taylor is murdered, the tape of Ahmaud Arbery comes out. So now we’re dealing with this, and we’re still trying to figure out the logistics of playing, and then this second wave has hit for COVID. So to say that we have any sort of comfort level would be a lie. There is no comfort level. We’re not with our families. We’re not at our homes. We’re isolated in a bubble in the middle of a hot spot in the middle of Florida while there’s social unrest going on in the county and we’re three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes. So there’s all of that going on. Now we have to figure out a way to preform and play basketball and all of that, because I do believe it is the right thing to go and play. But there is absolutely no comfort level…none. I know the league and I know the (Players) Union has tried to create this environment, and I get it. But there is so much else going on right now. We’re going to go play and we’re going to do our best, but we realize there’s so many more important things.”