In The Education of Kendrick Perkins (St. Martin’s, Feb. 21), the NBA champion and ESPN broadcaster considers the crossroads of sports and politics.

You wrote that, in 2020, “suddenly basketball was politics.” Can you expand on that?

We went through so much that year. I was hosting The Jump with Rachel Nichols at the time. One show, which was supposed to be one hour, ended up going about three hours, and we weren’t talking about basketball but about politics and everyday life. It showed me that I could use my voice in areas outside of sports, to motivate people from a platform with an audience of millions.

Does that approach represent a trend?

We have more current basketball players that are out there being more vocal on what’s going on, whether it’s politics or the community. These bright young minds are using their platforms. In 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play a basketball game [after the police shooting of Jacob Blake], led by a group of young guys who said, “You know what, we’re not about to have a meeting about this. It’s not about to be a two- or three-hour conference call, we’re about to take a stand on our own right now.” They made everybody else open their eyes and say, “We got to stand with them.”

What’s the biggest misconception that fans have about players?

I think they don’t understand the wear and tear on your body, and the wear and tear on your mental state. I just saw an interview with John Wall, who thought about committing suicide. I heard Zion Williamson talk about how he was in a dark place. You could say, “Oh, that player gets paid millions of dollars to play a game,” but that still don’t stop what he’s feeling. He’s still a human being.

You noted that most starters on the 2007–2008 Celtics team you played on were fatherless. Has the prevalence of fatherlessness changed for the current generation of players?

Yes. What ended up happening was that those in my generation, who grew up without a father, we had the mindset of saying, “We’re going to be there for our kids, because our fathers weren’t there for us.”

Not every former player is successful in transitioning to being an analyst or a broadcaster. How did you manage to do so?

Because I was being myself, not trying to be nobody else. I know at times, I’m gonna speak broken English, and that’s okay. I’m looking at it as barbershop talk. I’m gonna speak on the game, not be afraid of whose feelings I hurt. In my 14 years playing, I have a lot of regrets. I think I could have been a better basketball player. But now I’ve got this opportunity to be the best version of me as an ESPN analyst. I’m gonna call it like I see it.