Bucks’ Hill: Basketball ‘last thought on my mind’

George Hill took a moment to regather himself.

While discussing the current status of black people in America on Friday morning during a video conference panel presented by Amp Harris Productions, the Milwaukee Bucks guard grew emotional.

He shared his personal experience with racism while growing up in Indiana and offered his thoughts about the NBA’s scheduled return next month in Orlando, Florida, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the coronavirus pandemic.

“If I didn’t have that talent, I possibly would’ve been that George Floyd. 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,” Hill said before getting choked up. “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.”

Hill was joined by Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, Butler men’s basketball coach LaVall Jordan and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. during the meeting titled “The State of Black America: A Discussion with Representatives from Sports & Entertainment.”

Local Indiana promoter and community activist Amp Harris moderated the event, conducted to try to make change during challenging times. Harris is also orchestrating a march Sunday in Indiana to voice requested legislative changes and register participants to vote.

With the topics of systematic racism, social injustice and racial inequity in the national spotlight, both Turner and Hill admitted it’s tough to think about basketball.

“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. “That’s like my last worry. That’s just the 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.”

Turner also says he’s in great physical shape, but mentally, he’s “still got a little more work to do” before he can fully focus on a return to basketball this season with all that’s going on.

“I don’t know how it’s going to affect me on the basketball court,” Turner said. “I know that I, physically, have been working my ass off this entire time I’ve been off. I haven’t taken one day off since this whole hiatus has came into effect. I really have been busting my ass down here. I’m in great physical shape, but mentally, I’ve still got a little more work to do.

“I’m paid millions of dollars to go out there and perform at a high level so part of it’s like, ‘Man, you’ve got to suck it up and go out there and do what you’re paid to do,’ but the other part of it is like, ‘Listen man this basketball s—, I love it, it’s part of what makes me me, but it’s not all of what makes me me, either,’ and I have a responsibility as a young black professional athlete to advocate for this change.”

Both players are actively pushing for change.

“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. “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 those people 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.

“That’s a hard question when everyone just says, ‘Shut up and dribble,'” he continued, referring to an admonishment that Fox News personality Laura Ingraham made when LeBron James criticized President Trump. “No, I’m not going to shut up and dribble. I don’t care if you take my contract, I don’t care if you say that I’m this or that, I’m human. I have a heart. I have a pulse. I have emotions. I’m a man. I have kids. I’m a father. I have a wife. I have friends. I have loved ones. It means [something] to me. I’m not going to just shut up and dribble.”

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