George Hill downplays skipping national anthem with candid explanation of 'pregame ritual'

Jason Owens
·3 mins read

George Hill returned with his teammates to NBA action on Saturday.

He did not join them for the national anthem.

After the game he provided an unexpected explanation for his absence.

Hill draws camera attention during anthem

The Milwaukee Bucks guard who initiated Wednesday’s walkout that resulted in a three-day player strike in the NBA bubble remained in the tunnel as the national anthem played prior to Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

Hill led Bucks’ walkout

Hill has been vocal since the start of bubble play, questioning whether NBA play should resume amid unresolved issues of racial injustice and police brutality.

“We shouldn’t have even come to this damn place, to be honest,” Hill said on Monday. “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”

Hill made that statement a day after video surfaced of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting Jacob Hill in the back several times, leaving the 29-year-old father of three paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family.

George Hill was a leader in the decisions that led to this week's NBA player strike. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
George Hill was a leader in the decisions that led to this week's NBA player strike. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Three days later, the Bucks refused to take the floor for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Magic. Hill was reportedly instrumental in the decision and the leading voice of the team as it released a statement making demands of accountability for Blake’s shooting, which occurred roughly 45 miles south of Milwaukee.

Hill read from a team statement alongside Bucks forward Sterling Brown as their teammates stood behind them in a news conference Thursday evening.

“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we have seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there have been no actions, so our focus cannot be on basketball.”

Hill’s candid explanation for missing anthem

Hill scored 11 points in 23 minutes in Milwaukee’s 118-104 win. He also provided a candid explanation for missing the anthem while downplaying his absence after the game when asked by Yahoo Sports’ Seerat Sohi.

“You want the honest truth?” Hill asked. “I take a s--- every time before the game. I’ve been doing it for the last four years. If you go back and watch any footage of our previous games before we came down here to this bubble, that’s what I do before every game.

“It so happens that you guys were snoozing in the hallways and caught me coming back from my pregame ritual. And that’s what I always do. That’s the honest truth.”

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