I had the opportunity to chat with J.J. Redick on Friday as part of his promotional work for Dove Men+Care’s new Real Winners Care campaign. We touched on his personal connection to the campaign, which emphasizes a unifying message of passion and respect and the responsibility that we all have as fans of the game, and also got to talk about the Clippers’ season. I’ve included the full audio below, as well as some of the most interesting snippets from the interview.
DB: So let’s just start with your partnership with Dove Men Plus Care. I was wondering if you could just talk a bit about the Real Winners Care campaign and why it’s important to you.
J.J. Redick: Yeah, I mean, I’m really excited to partner with Dove Men+Care on this campaign. You know, for me, I’ve always had sort of a sense of my place in the game and an understanding that I’m part of something much, much, much bigger than myself. I think whether you’re a player, or a fan, or a coach, an alumni, whatever, this campaign really speaks to everyone. The Real Strength Manifesto, which is available on Dove Men+Care’s website, is just kind of about that message – a unifying message about care and passion, and about understanding everyone’s place in the game and how important fans are to the game.
DB: Yeah, absolutely, and I know you weren’t always necessarily the most popular guy in opposing arenas in college – are some of those personal experiences why you got involved in the first place?
JR: Oh, no question, no question. The campaign hit home with me for sure. You know, as much as the negative experiences I had in college with opposing fans sort of played a role in that, I think the positive experiences probably outweighed that. I was fortunate to play in front of the Cameron Crazies for four years and got to experience their passion 65 or 70 times, however many home games I had. And then playing in the NCAA Tournament, playing in the ACC Tournament, being part of March Madness, being at these big arenas and looking out in the crowd and seeing a sea of Duke blue, now a sea of Northwestern purple, it’s just really cool and you see how much fans and alumni care about their schools and about the game. So, yeah, as much as it was the negative experiences, the positive was really a motivating factor as well for this.
DB: You guys have a strong North Carolina presence in the locker room between Raymond Felton, rookie Brice Johnson – do you have many opportunities to watch games together, and is there any friendly trash talk that ensues if you do?
JR: I have a standing bet with every teammate: when our schools play against each other there’s a $100 bet, $100 wager. So I made a little bit of money off the UNC guys, we also have Pat Sullivan, who coaches us, and he played at UNC in the 90s. I usually make a lot of money off Chris [Paul] – Wake Forest hasn’t been very good the last few years. Ray Felton did tell me that if somehow Duke and UNC were to meet in the National Championship game, we’d have to up our wager a little bit. So, we’ll see.
DB: What do you feel like you need to see in the next 13 games to feel confident heading in to the playoffs?
JR: I think health, for sure. I think if everybody’s healthy, that’s probably step one. I’m a big believer in the “winning cures all,” it’s like the perfect band-aid to any problems. So, you know, I’d love it if we went on a five or six game-winning streak over the next couple weeks, and I think that would help things. As much as people can say it’s personnel or chemistry or whatever, you have to have the right spirit to play and, let’s just be honest, when you lose games and you’re not playing consistently it’s hard to have the right spirit. I mean, you start winning – that helps the spirit out. So that’s probably the biggest thing – just making sure we’re healthy and getting our spirit right.
DB: As the regular season winds down, I’m curious how much attention you guys are collectively paying attention to the standings – is that something you guys talk about in the locker room, is that something that Doc talks about? How does that factor in at this point of the season?
JR: There’s no discussion of who you want to play or trying to game the system to get the 5-seed or the 6-seed or the 4-seed, we’re trying to play good basketball and we’re trying to win, and ultimately we’d love to have home court advantage in the first round. We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to get that, which if you had told me that in November, I would have told you that you were crazy, and that’s just kind of how this season has been – it’s been a really weird season.
DB: With Steve Ballmer you guys have embraced some of the sports science developments and you’ve been resting guys, which we saw last night with Blake [Griffin] and DeAndre [Jordan]. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this new trend of resting as a competitor, and how that affects your preparation for a game when you know you’re going to be shorthanded.
JR: In terms of being shorthanded, I don’t think the preparation is any different because you’re always going to have injuries or rest, or whatever it may be. You just have to play whoever’s available. That doesn’t really change. In terms of the trend of resting guys across the league, from a player’s perspective, I like it in the sense that I think it will help with recovery and rest and keeping guys fresh, and ultimately, making guys’ careers longer, which I think is a good thing. We can continue to earn a living well into our 30s, which is—I don’t think any player is going to complain about that.
The flip side of that, of course, is with fans. I mean, fans are spending their hard earned money on tickets or to have a subscription to Turner or ESPN or League Pass, and we’re trying to deliver an awesome product. When you choose to rest players you’re devaluing the product. From the business side, I certainly get that argument and get that complaint that people have made with this trend, but I think for me, it’s a trend that I think needs to happen and needs to continue to happen, and I’m all for it. The only other thing I’ll say is, I think sometimes when you’re in a rhythm, and this game is so much about rhythm, sometimes you have a rest day and it takes you out of your rhythm, and I feel like that’s what happened to me a little bit when I had my one rest day. I’m coming off a great game and it took four or five games to get that rhythm back.
DB: So it’s no secret that there’s a lot of uncertainty with the roster heading into this summer – how much of an impact do you foresee this year’s playoff run having on how everything shakes out?
JR: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s—the player’s side of it is each player kind of has to make his decision based on what’s best for him and his family and then from the team side, the team has to decide the route they want to go and whether they want to bring everybody back, and whatnot. And I think a lot of that decision-making on both sides will be based upon how we do in the playoffs and how we perform in the playoffs.
Many thanks to Dove Men+Care for making this a possibility. For more information on the Real Winners Care campaign and the Real Strength Manifesto, visit http://www.dove.com/us/en/men-care/ncaa.html.