The footage went viral instantly, and why not? The image perfectly captured J.J. Redick's varying emotions over the New Orleans Pelicans' struggles in an eventual double-digit loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Aug. 1.
As the Pelicans nursed a 23-point deficit toward the end of the first half, Redick looked angry, exasperated and confused.
"In that moment I was thinking to myself, 'What the hell am I doing here?' " Redick told USA TODAY Sports. " 'Why am I even here? This is not that important.' "
Redick had those thoughts because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, protests about systemic racism and the time away from his family inside the NBA bubble in Florida. But the moment also captured the Pelicans' underachieving season. They failed to make the postseason despite having an entertaining rookie (Zion Williamson), the NBA's Most Improved Player (Brandon Ingram) and an emerging point guard (Lonzo Ball).
Q&A PART ONE: Redick on virtual wine tasting and life in the NBA bubble
Q&A PART TWO: Redick on being an ally in fight against systemic racism
In part three of a Q&A with USA TODAY Sports, Redick talked about the Pelicans' season as well as how long he wants to play following his 14th NBA campaign. In part one, Redick talked about Acker Wines' virtual tasting series, "All-Stars Uncorked," which will begin Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET through Zoom. In part two, Redick spoke about the NBA using its platform to address systemic racism. The Q&A below has been edited for length and clarity.
We’re keeping basketball season going! Join us Tuesday, September 22 as we kick off our All-Stars Uncorked Virtual Tasting series with NBA player @JJRedick! Sign up here: https://t.co/yhOlGPzkJS#ackeruncorkedpic.twitter.com/iUIcZJVB7s
What’s your read on why the Pelicans didn’t make the playoffs?
Redick: "We had a consistent stretch from the week before Christmas for about a month or so. Then we were basically a .500 team after that. Then the season ended. We never really got into a rhythm in the bubble. Certainly Zion having to leave with his family, we weren’t able to get into a rhythm as a team. We also had our opportunities in the bubble. We had a couple of games that we didn’t close out. (Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations) David Griffin said, 'Success in the bubble is going to be predicated on who actually wants to be there the most.' I’m not knocking our team. But if you look at the four teams in the conference finals, those are the teams that for the most part wanted to be there. We really embraced this. You’ve certainly seen that with Miami. It seems like those guys were built for this environment."
To clarify, to what extent did you sense the "wanting to be there" being an issue with the team?
Redick: "Well, we’re a young team. There’s a certain level of professionalism that we all still are learning. We had some games where we didn’t compete hard enough. That was really disappointing. I thought from a talent perspective and a depth perspective, we were a playoff team this year. So not to reach your potential as a team, you have to be disappointed in that. You obviously have to self-reflect and self-grade with how could I have been better. Down the line, each guy has to do that."
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