Pelicans’ Redick never wavered about restart

New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick said he never truly wavered about whether to play in Orlando, Florida, as a part of the NBA’s restart during the coronavirus pandemic.

As he told reporters on Friday morning, his logic was simple: If the league was coming back, he was going to play. But that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily comfortable with it.

“We started seeing that momentum that we were gonna maybe play,” Redick said on a video call, retracing the past several weeks. “… And then, all of a sudden, George Floyd gets murdered, Breonna Taylor’s murdered, the tape of Ahmaud Arbery comes out.”

While the league was trying to figure out logistics for restarting the season, players were speaking their minds about racism, social injustice and the deaths of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery. Then another wave of COVID-19 hit.

It’s all something Redick and other players have had to process.

“So to say that we have any sort of comfort level would be a lie. There is no comfort level,” Redick said. “We’re not with our families. We’re not at our homes. We’re [going to be] 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 country, and we’re three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes.

“So there’s all that going on. Now, we have to figure out a way to perform and play basketball and all that, because I do believe it is the right thing to go and play. But there is absolutely no comfort level — none. And I know the league and I know the union has tried to create this environment, and I get it — but there’s so much else going on right now. We’re gonna go play; we’re gonna do our best. But we realize there’s so many more important things.”

Redick, who is on Pelicans and New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson’s social justice Players Coalition, has spent time the past three months using his voice to speak out against injustice.

He added that he doesn’t feel it’s something new he’s done, just something that has become more outward with time while mentioning donations he’s made with his wife Chelsea in the past that he’s kept intentionally private.

“I think it is trying to listen, especially listening to black voices, you have to figure out where you should step aside and where you should speak up and where you should act,” Redick said. “We’re all figuring that out in real time. Just having the basic human emotion of empathy, I think it’s very easy to say ‘I need to speak up, I need to act, I need to help, I need to listen.’ Whatever it may be. Some of it is just having empathy. Honestly.”

Redick expressed that he was very appreciative that the league and the player’s union are allowing the players to use their platforms in Orlando to be advocates for social justice.

However, for Redick, it goes beyond just having Black Lives Matter on the court or some sort of representation on their jerseys.

“More importantly, the league, the union, the players, we’re actively trying to create policy change and invest in black communities, real dollars. That’ll happen over the course of any number of years. It won’t be a quick change, it’ll be incremental,” Redick said.

“I think that’s more important than us having something on the back of our jerseys. The system has to change, the way we portray, the way we talk about, the way we treat people. But the system itself has to change. That’s the most important part for our league, how do we help create systemic change.”

Leave a Reply