There’s an unfortunate story going around about JJ Redick which where he’s accused of saying a racial slur that rhymes with the word drink.
Here’s what JJ himself had to say via Twitter:
“Just saw a video that is being circulated of me wishing a happy new year to NBA fans in China. Clearly I was tongue tied, as the word I purportedly said is not in my vocabulary. I’m disappointed that anyone would think I would use that word. I love & respect our friends in China.”
There are a couple of reasons why we believe him.
First, even if Redick were that sort of person, he’s very media savvy. He’s been in the public eye since he was a teenager and there’s never been the slightest hint that he harbors any sort of racist thoughts. You’d have to be be some combination of unguarded, stupid or insane to say that sort of thing in 2018. Redick is neither stupid or insane and he’s too much of a public figure to be unguarded. So for that alone we wouldn’t buy it.
Beyond that though are his upbringing and influences.
We got to know his father slightly when Redick was at Duke and learned a bit about his family as well. We’re pretty sure they didn't raise their children that way. Our impression of the Redicks is that they are artistically oriented and in a generic way, left of center politically. They’re very decent people and they raised their children to be decent people as well.
Redick of course chose Duke and spent four years there where he dealt with Asians of many backgrounds. Additionally he obviously played for Coach K who has never been particularly tolerant of bigotry.
And he also spent the prime years of his career in L.A. where, like at Duke, he was bound to have interacted with many Chinese and other Asians.
It makes no sense and is jarringly at odds with the JJ Redick most of us know.
That apparently includes Jeremy Lin. The NBA guard says he called Redick and talked to him and is convinced that Redick is telling the truth and didn’t say a racial slur on TV.
Finally, if nothing else, Redick realizes, as does everyone else in the NBA, that China represents a huge business opportunity. If nothing else here makes sense believe this: Redick is smart enough not to alienate 1.2 billion potential customers.
There’s a bit of a mob mentality over this currently unfortunately but here’s a thought: maybe it’s time we stopped thinking the worst of everyone.
If Redick says he stumbled on his words and that he didn’t say what people think he said, why not take him at his word? If at some point Redick makes an intentionally racist comment about Chinese or some other group then the denouncements and ostracization can resume.
On this occasion however he offered a reasonable explanation and a heartfelt apology. People of good will should accept that.