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Transcript: Pelicans guard Josh Hart media availability – July 2, 2020

Josh Hart Media Availability – July 2, 2020

On making the best of the NBA’s training restrictions while preparing to return to play:
“I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job so far. Obviously, it’s all relative to what we could do before. Getting those shots up, getting some full-court work, trying to get up and down because we play fast. Just trying to get that conditioning right is the biggest piece. I feel like we’ve been doing a pretty good job with it. I would love if we could kind of ramp it up a little bit more before we got to Orlando and did more four-on-four or five-on-five to kind of get us ready for that time. I think it’s kind of going to be hard to go from one-on-(zero) workouts with coaches and all of that to straight five-on-five. I wish there was a little more progression, but I think we’re handling it well within the guidelines of the NBA.”

On the NBA’s plan for return to play:
“I’m fully with it. I think right now there’s no (COVID-19) vaccine or preventative solution to this. Right now you have to be OK with some type of risk. It is what it is unless you stay in the house every single day for the next year or so…I think you’re going to have to be OK with some type of risk. I’m kind of just putting my faith in them. I think they’ve handled it very well. I think the bubble will be safer than a lot of other places or a lot of other markets there are. In New Orleans, cases have been going up…California, New York. So I feel like the bubble is probably the safest solution to what we’re living with right now. I’ve got full faith in the NBA and the Pelicans organization to keep everything as safe as possible.”

On how concerned he is with the quick ramp-up to five-on-five training:
“I’m definitely a little bit concerned about it. I think you saw with the German soccer league, they had between ten to thirteen injuries in the first match. Obviously seeing stuff like that is a little worrisome. The best thing we can do is to get with the trainers to just kind of strengthen the tendons and the soft tissue so we don’t have those injuries. A little worried about it, but at the end of the day I’m just going to go out there and play basketball the way I normally play and I’ll put everything in God’s hands.

On golfing and how he plans to fill time in Orlando:
“I wouldn’t say I’m a golfer yet. I’m someone who can somewhat hit the ball fifty percent of the time. Definitely going down to Orlando is about filling that time. We’re going to be on the court…it’s not going to be a regular time that you can be on the court for three or four hours, go home, eat, come back to the court, get shots up at night. Everything is going to be very time-restricted in terms of court access. Golf will be a great way to chew time up…video games, stuff like that. I think that’s part of the battle, just trying to fill that void of how much time there is.”

On the adjustment to playing without fans, especially for him:
“It’s definitely a bummer because at the end of the day you always like to interact with fans. You like to make little kids’ days and do stuff like that. Playing with Villanova has helped me before and will help me going forward…Coach (Jay) Wright said we play for our teammates and coaches. I think that’s something I can take into the bubble, because at the end of the day you have those other 14 guys that’s on the roster with you, you’ve got the coaches, you’ve got the people in the locker room with you that at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. Obviously you love the city, you love the fans, you need their support, but when you’re on the road you’ve got no fans. You don’t have that many fans…unless you’re the Lakers and they travel very well. When you’re a smaller market team (and) you’re on the
road, all you’ve really got are those 20 or 25 guys that are in that locker room. At the end of the day, it sucks not being able to have those guys at your back, but I play for my teammates and coaches so I’m not really worried about it.”

On the possibility of Alvin Gentry not being able to coach in the bubble:
“Obviously we want him and our (Associate Head Coach, Defense) Jeff (Bzdelik). We want those guys there obviously, but the most important thing is their health. We would like to see them there. As long as we can find something in the guidelines to protect their long term health and the health of their families. I think that’s the biggest thing at the end of the day. We love basketball, basketball is our passion, but at the end of the day basketball isn’t worth the risk of losing your life or losing some of your health. Like I said, we want them there but we want to protect them as much as possible.”

On the importance of mental toughness heading into Orlando:
“I think it’s probably ten percent physical, ninety percent mental honestly. At the end of the day, we’ve been playing basketball since a lot of us could just walk. We’re going out there, we’re doing what we love, we’ve got the muscle memory. We’ve been working out, we’ve been putting the work in on the court, but a lot of it is going to be off the court…obviously having all that free time, not being able to see friends, family, children, wife, girlfriend, and all that stuff like that. I think that could take a toll on a lot of the guys. Obviously if you’re there until the Finals, you might be able to see your family towards the end of that, but you’re there for one, two, two and a half months without any contact with your loved ones or you can’t see your kids or stuff like that. That’s tough, but I think that’s honestly the biggest part of that. I think with that being said, whoever comes out on top this year and wins the Finals, I think they will have an asterisk next to that championship. That asterisk is probably winning the hardest Finals there probably ever was and maybe ever will be.”

On emerging as a leader of this team and if more responsibility will fall on he, Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, and others if Alvin Gentry is not in Orlando:
“You put me with those old guys. I’m not that old, I’m just 25. JJ is like 40. I think it’s kind of the same mentality if someone wad hurt and couldn’t play…it’s the next man up. With that being said, if Coach Gentry and Coach Jeff can’t go, then we all have to step up and do a little bit more and fill that void that’s there. Whether that’s JJ, Jrue, myself, Zo (Lonzo Ball), Zion (Williamson), whoever it is…everyone has to take a step forward and take more accountability on themselves and on this team to get things to go. I think if we’re just bummed that we don’t have those guys and you think of it as a negative, then the season is going to be wasted. I think it definitely is adding accountability on everybody, but it’s a team so we all have to fill that void.”

On if being extension eligible play into his decision to come back and continue to play this season in Orlando:
“Honestly, it wasn’t really on my mind until other people brought it up and I started thinking about it a little bit then, but at the end of the day I love to compete, I love to hoop, I love to play basketball. I want to go out there and play and obviously, knock on wood, I don’t get hurt, but at the end of the day, injuries are a part of basketball. If I went down there and I was only playing half-speed because I was scared to get hurt, then I would probably get hurt doing that, or I would hurt my team from their chances of making the playoffs, making a run…cheating the organization and the city. So with me, I’m going out there and just wanting to win. Whatever happens, happens. I put everything in God’s faith. I’m a child of faith, a child of God, and I’m letting all that up to him. I’m just going to go out there and just help my team, my organization, and the city doing what I do best, and that’s just hooping.”

On what changes in society he wants to come from the racial injustice movement:
“Obviously, we want to change the hearts of some people. Obviously, we want to have a sense of defunding some of the police. That’s not – when you say defunding police, that’s not take the police out and just let everyone run wild. I think it was Mark Hill, had a call with some of the CAA clients and we were able to talk a little bit about it. It was great in terms of educating us, and that was one thing we talked about, defunding the police, and we kind of related back to basketball. The police, you call them for everything. Whether that’s homeless people, or drunk people in the parking lot, and stuff like that. They might not be trained in that aspect of it or something like that. We want to take that off their plate. For example, I know who I am. I’m a defender, a rebounder, a 3-point shooter, and can get to the rim. If you sit there and want me to play like James Harden and take 40 step-backs or dribble the ball however many times, or be like LeBron (James) to pass and facilitate…I can’t do that. That’s not what I’m good at, so I want that taken off my plate. The same with that (defunding police). We want that to happen. Try to take steps to take action against systematic racism. What we are doing, we want to just hope. Basketball help brings people together, and I think that’s the beauty of this game. It brings people from all ages, ethnicities, together and that’s what we want to do. We want to be a healing aspect during this time.”

On if he was able to talk to Zion Williamson about his time during the quarantine:
“Just a little bit. The biggest thing with me, I talk to the guys, but I don’t want to be overbearing. I don’t want to be that guy that tries to be a leader in too much of a way and talk to them every day and try to figure out how the day’s going and everything like that. He’s handled everything great. I think body-wise, he looks amazing. He looks good. His shot looks better than it has been in a while, so he’s been putting the work in, and that’s great to see. He’s one of the players that’s got one of the brightest spotlights in the league and in the world right now. He handles everything great, humility, and I’m very surprised and proud of how he handles all of it.”

On his reaction to three of his teammates testing positive to COVID-19 and the concerns about his health:
“When I first heard it, I take myself out of the equation. Those guys have it. I want to make sure they’re okay, they’re as safe as possible, they’re doing well. I think that’s the most important thing. Once all those guys are good, there’s no lasting effects or anything like that and they get back to the team, we’re just happy they’re there. Happy they are okay. Happy they are safe. I’m not really worried about my own health. I think the NBA has done a great job of putting an amazing protocol in place to make sure that guys who have had or have it are kind of contained and not put back in the organization until they’re not contagious, until that virus gets out of them. We want to make sure that we’re there for those guys, obviously not physically but in spirit and hope them the best and pray for them.”

On what he will be putting on the back of his jersey in Orlando:
“Yeah. I don’t think I am going to keep my name on it. I obviously want to be sensitive about whatever I put on my jersey, so that’s going to be a conversation that I want to have with influential people to see the best use, or whatever the best phrase or name or whatever I can put on my jersey that I can put on. I’m definitely going to change it, but obviously these times are sensitive times, so I want to make sure I’m able to put whatever I put on my jersey, to help benefit the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and not cause any friction with anything. I want to definitely talk to some people that know a little bit more about some of the things that I’m not the most educated, unfortunately, about what’s going on at times. I want to have conversations with those people and kind of figure out the best thing to put on.”

On if Zion Williamson coming into the lineup changed the Pelicans’ playoff outlook:
“Yeah. At the beginning of the season, I mean, I think you’ve seen what his presence does, honestly. We started this season (7-23) and now we’re in a position to make the playoffs and make a push for the playoffs. He’s done an amazing job. Coaches and our teammates have done an amazing job of sacrificing their own – some of their own roles to make sure we’re able to get him involved and get the ball in his hands and let him play-make and everything else like that. One thing that is a beauty of this team, of this organization honestly, it’s kind of like a college feel…especially for me because we’re all so close. It’s a tight-knit organization, and we want each other to succeed as much as we want ourselves to succeed. The addition (of) him made us more aggressive, more dynamic. It definitely put us in an amazing (spot) to make a push for the playoffs. I mean, I think if we had him at the beginning of the year, the story wouldn’t be fighting for the eighth seed. It would have been: we’re a four or five seed in the West. Honestly that’s my opinion, so. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to have him in the beginning of the year, but he’s helped turn this organization and this season around.”

On where he played golf the other day:
“Actually both days I played at Bayou Oaks at City Park. This week I’m going to play at Chateau Country Club. You guys are being very nice, saying playing golf. I’m out there swinging, trying to hit the ball, so I’m not going to say playing golf. I’m out there.”

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