Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill is ready physically to play again when the NBA attempts to resume its season next month at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Mentally, however, it’s a very different story.
In his eyes — Hill said Friday during a video panel titled, “The State of Black America: A Discussion with Representatives from Sports & Entertainment” with Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, former WNBA star Tamika Catchings, Butler coach LaVall Jordan and Colts linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. — there are far more important things going on in the world for him to worry about.
“I’ve been working every day since this all started with my body, my game and things like that, but as a whole, I can care less about basketball right now,” Hill said, via ESPN. “That’s like my last worry. That’s just a game I’m blessed to play.
“When the ball goes up in the air, I’m ready to play, I love the competitive side of it, but that’s not who I am. So, that’s my last thought on my mind is basketball. I can care less what’s going on. I think there’s bigger issues and bigger things to tackle in life right now than a basketball game, but that’s just my personal opinion.”
Hill was averaging 9.6 points and three rebounds per game off the bench for the Bucks when the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 34-year-old was in the midst of his 12th season in the league and second with the Bucks, helping them secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference headed into the modified restart in Florida with a 53-12 record.
‘I possibly would’ve been George Floyd’
Hill, an Indianapolis native who spent five seasons with the Pacers, addressed George Floyd’s homicide in police custody in Minneapolis last month and the mass protests that have followed ever since.
The issue hit close to home. Had things gone a bit differently growing up, he said, he could have suffered the same fate.
“If I didn’t have that talent, I possibly would’ve been George Floyd,” Hill said, via ESPN. “I possibly would’ve been all my family members that got gunned down in the streets in Indianapolis. So, yes, this for me, it impacts me even more because I’ve seen the killing going on, and I’ve seen the police brutality.
“I’ve seen that my cousin is laying in the street for an hour and a half before another police officer gets there. I’ve seen that. So, I get emotional because it really hurts. I’ve got interracial kids, and I’m scared just for my whole life.”
Floyd’s death, and video of his arrest, sparked not only widespread protests and rallies across the country — many of which have been led by prominent professional athletes — but also a much larger conversation about race and racism in the United States. Some NBA players have even considered sitting out when the league resumes play in Florida because of it.
Though Hill didn’t talk about his plans for the rest of the season, he is one of countless others in the sports world pushing for meaningful change. Even though he’s an athlete, he said he refuses to “shut up and dribble.”
“Now, when you see all of this, you’re like, ‘I have to protect myself. I can’t wait on them to protect me. I see what they’re doing. They don’t give two f---s about us,’ ” Hill said, via ESPN. “If you’re able to put your knee on someone’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, you have no heart. You have no pulse. If you can smile and put your hands in your pocket and the ones that are around you that didn’t do anything, are not human either.
“So, for me, yes, I had frustration. Did I want to grab every gun that I own? Yes, I did. That’s all I knew. But is it going to help? No. We’ve been doing this for 400 years. It’s been the same. So, for me, it just means more because you’re supposed to look at [police] as protectors, and you don’t have that. You’re supposed to look at all these situations as learning lessons, but you’re like, ‘When is learning enough? Like when is it enough? Like when are we going to be tired of this? How do we change the narrative?’ So, for me, it’s just tough.”
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