Blazers at the Break: The rise of CJ McCollum and the path he took to stardom

Blazers at the Break: The rise of CJ McCollum and the path he took to stardom

Editor's note: With the arrival of the NBA All-Star Break, CSN looks at the five most relevant/pressing issues with the Trail Blazers. Part 1 looks at the rise of CJ McCollum and the obstacles he encountered on his journey to stardom.

A couple of weeks ago, CJ McCollum was given a book by teammate Festus Ezeli that has resonated with the Trail Blazers’ growing star.

The book – “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday – uses stories from notable figures such as John D Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart and Theodore Roosevelt to frame obstacles as opportunities.

As McCollum entered the All-Star break, he had read about 100 pages of the book, and one section in particular spoke to him. It was the part that talked about astronauts, and in how before learning how to fly, they first learned the skill of not panicking.

“It’s a mindset thing,’’ McCollum said. “They have to learn how to be calm and cool under pressure before they begin learning how to fly.’’

The mental state is referred to as “apatheia,” a calm of equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions.

McCollum loves the concept, for he feels like it captures his own approach to basketball. McCollum after games often talks stoically, and usually about statistics and techniques rather than feelings or emotions. He prefers that approach, he says, because emotions are unstable and statistics are facts, and therefore reliable.

“I was like, ‘Wow! I’m just reading this at 25, and this is how I’ve been my whole life,’’’ McCollum said.

He says this as he prepares to head to New Orleans not only as the Trail Blazers lone representative at the All-Star Game (3-point contest), but also as a growing figure within Portland and the Blazers franchise.

But to McCollum, the story is not his astronaut-like ascension toward stardom on a league-wide level, but rather the path that got him here, and the perspective gained during that journey.

And really, the journey’s destination was never calibrated toward stardom, but rather happiness.

“Finding that inner happiness, that’s the key,’’ McCollum said. “And I think I’ve finally found that.’’

That happiness has allowed him to slowly open up more, and it’s why he says he is more easily tempted to be more demonstrative during games, whether that be shimmying his shoulders after he caps off a nice move with a basket, or waving his arms in the air to encourage the crowd to make noise during an opponent’s free throw.

And his happiness is why McCollum says he has been more active in the Portland community. In November, he unveiled a Dream Center at the Boys & Girls Club that promotes learning for youths, and earlier this week he held his second annual CJ’s Press Pass program for young aspiring high school journalists.

 “He’s coming into his own,’’ teammate Damian Lillard said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I know the feeling. It’s like a feeling of certainty, a more sure feeling of things. I think that’s just where you get to, and it’s a good spot to be in. And he’s definitely there right now.’’

This is the path McCollum took to get there, and these are the obstacles he encountered along the way.

Understanding his place

His first lesson came in his rookie season, when he found himself summoned to the office of Neil Olshey, the team’s top executive, who felt McCollum needed some advice.

“It was about understanding your place,’’ McCollum said of Olshey’s talk.

McCollum, it had been reported to Olshey, had been ruffling the feathers of some veterans with what some referred to as an “Ivy League attitude,” creating unease within the Blazers front office that their rookie could become an outcast in the locker room.

The tipping point came during a practice, when McCollum’s supreme confidence sent ripples throughout the team.

“I still remember it,’’ Damian Lillard said of the practice. “He was actually on my team.’’

As the Blazers scrimmaged, McCollum became isolated on then-Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge.

“He did a move that kind of rocked L.A. a little bit,’’ Lillard recalled. “And CJ rose up and took the jumper.’’

As the ball was in the air, Aldridge yelled “That’s off!”

It wasn’t.

The ball swished.

“And when CJ made it, he was like ‘Shut up!.’’’ Lillard said, wide-eyed at the recollection. “That was his response: ‘Shut up.’’’

Aldridge, a prideful and sensitive veteran, was not pleased.

“You could tell it kind of bugged L.A. a bit,’’ Lillard said. “Not so much that CJ scored, but that he had that much confidence.’’

It wasn’t just his confidence, though, that was rankling the veterans. McCollum was refusing to embrace the rookie hazing that is a time-honored tradition in the NBA. Typically, rookies have to carry veteran’s laundry, run errands, and sometimes even wear silly outfits.

But McCollum eschewed the tradition.

“Sometimes, I would just be like, ‘Nah, I’m not doing that,’’’ McCollum said. “I mean, think about it … think about it: You are asleep and somebody comes knocking at your hotel room door, they have a key made and come into your room at 2 a.m. and pour water on you? Come on, man.’’

McCollum would later learn that the pranking teammate – Wesley Matthews – and other veterans who would call at odd hours wanting chicken wings or other errands, were just trying to bond.

So in Olshey’s office, that one day after the scrimmage scene with Aldridge, a message was delivered.

“Understand where you are at and where you want to get to,’’ McCollum recalled. “And just blend in.’’

It was his first lesson about paying dues, and understanding the hierarchy of leadership.

Soon, he was dutifully taking the laundry bags of Aldridge, Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Dorell Wright. He would sometimes make trips to get Wright soft soap or playing cards, and for Aldridge he would have to get Starbucks – on command -- for which he said Aldridge was always paid him handsomely.  He even made a trip or two to fetch wings.

“I got really good at my duties after a while,’’ McCollum said, noting he had to be the team’s “rookie” for two seasons because the team was void a pick in 2014. “Eventually, you figure out it’s about trust. If you show you can be trusted to do these things, they can trust you on the court.’’

Finding balance

Three years later, McCollum has nudged alongside Lillard as the face of the franchise, not only for his entertaining play but also for his impact in the community.

His lethal crossover move has figuratively broken the ankles of players like Victor Oladipo, and sent Draymond Green guarding air in a different area code. And his pullback crossover once sent Dirk Nowitzki through the spin cycle.

But his most important move, McCollum says, was finding balance in his life that allows him to work on what he calls his “legacy” – helping kids.

In November, he partnered with the Boys & Girls club and opened the CJ McCollum Dream Center, an innovative learning room that includes computers, art and more than 200 culturally relevant books. He also has plans to open two more Dream Centers.

And last week, he held his second Press Pass event, where local high school students attended the Blazers game against Atlanta and learned the ins-and-outs of the journalism profession. McCollum majored in journalism at Lehigh University.

“I want to leave a lasting legacy as a guy who did more than just played basketball,’’ McCollum said.

Before he could start working on that legacy, however, McCollum said he learned he needed to find balance in his life.

For much of his early career, basketball was all consuming.

His first two seasons, he stewed as he rarely played. There were injuries --- a broken foot his rookie season that caused him to miss 38 games and a broken right finger his second season that sidelined him for a month --  and a roster that included veterans Matthews and later, Arron Afflalo.

“It’s hard. The injuries and stuff are mentally draining, it wears on you,’’ McCollum said.

He was watching players from his draft class he felt he was better than, getting opportunities and succeeding. Even when he came home to get away from the frustration of sitting the bench, he was reminded of his status.

“I would play 2K (video game) and I was sorry. I couldn’t make a lay-in. Couldn’t dribble,’’ McCollum said.

The hardest time might have been at the 2015 trading deadline, when the Blazers traded for Afflalo, pushing McCollum from second string to third string.

“Think about this: You show up to the arena, and you know you aren’t going to play, and your girl is in town to see you … you know how hard that is?’’ McCollum said. “You are at the highest level, and you are not playing. That’s a hard thing to live with.’’

Looking back, he realizes his approach was unhealthy.

“I was bad early in my career, because even in my relationships everything was basketball,’’ McCollum said. “I didn’t want to go out to dinner the night before a game because we had a game, stuff like that.’’

Now, he has taken an interest in Oregon red wines. He plans vacations with his girlfriend. He hosts a radio show, continues plans for more Dream Centers and finds himself in interviews with the cast of “Portlandia.”

“There was a time when it was 100 percent basketball, and that’s not healthy,’’ McCollum said. “Even Kobe and Steph have an outlet – be it golf or business ventures or something creative. Your mind needs that break.’’

He calls it the developing of his “sense of self.”

“I think as you get older, you just become comfortable in realizing there’s a lot of other stuff that is important besides basketball,’’ McCollum said. “Obviously, it’s still important to me, and I love the game, but there’s more to life than basketball.’’

The struggle for inner-happiness

McCollum doesn’t need to finish the book Ezeli gave him to understand he will be presented with more obstacles throughout his career.

Next season, he will play with the pressures of his $106 million contract, and with growing weight of becoming a franchise pillar.

“The money … I say it doesn’t change the person, it changes the people around you,’’ McCollum said. “With how I was raised, it’s not going to change me. I drive a Chevy. Look … go out there to the parking lot and look, I drive a Chevy Tahoe. I mean, I could buy a lot of cars, and I will buy a car at some point, and I do have a Mercedes I bought as a rookie, but I like my Chevy. I wear Ugg boots sometimes. This is not a competition to see who can buy the nicest house, or most things.’’

He is confident the trials that await him will become triumphs, because as he has matured, he is developing a greater sense of self, a self that still includes shades of that cocksure rookie telling Aldridge to shut up.

“I think at first, (his assuredness) rubbed people the wrong way,’’ McCollum said. “As a young guy, you don’t know any better. I was just out there hooping like I was at the park with my friends. But as I got older, I think L.A. and the rest of the guys started to understand my personality, and they started to like the fact that I’m not going to change who I am – I will adapt to fit in and make sure I don’t disrespect people -- but I’m going to be CJ.’’

The only difference now is this CJ is more balanced, and more securely rooted in who and for what he represents.

“I think it’s a constant struggle to find inner-happiness, because no matter how much money you have, you still need to be content with who you are,’’ McCollum said. “Like J. Cole says: ‘Love yourself.’ You have to find what you truly care about.’’

So he will continue to perfect his game, and continue to create avenues for kids to succeed, all with the hope of turning obstacles into a legacy.

“We have to remember: this is a game. That’s why I try to have fun, why I smile, why I dance … this is a game,’’ McCollum said. “It’s a game that ends. One day, it ends. When it does, I want people to know, I want my kids to know, that I did more than just play basketball.’’

Coming Saturday: Part 2 -- Can the Blazers be championship contenders with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as a starting backcourt?

Trail Blazers transfer Moses Brown, Jaylen Hoard to Texas Legends

Trail Blazers transfer Moses Brown, Jaylen Hoard to Texas Legends

Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard are headed back to the Lone Star State. 

The Portland Trail Blazers completed two-way transfers of both players to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, as announced on Monday. 


Brown, the 20-year-old center out of UCLA, has played in nine games for Portland, averaging 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. With the Legends, Brown has averaged 14.9 points while shooting 63.8 percent from the field and 49.2 percent from the free-throw line. He’s also adding 7.6 rebounds and 1.41 blocks for the Legends. 

Hoard has averaged 2.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.3 assists in 13 games with the Trail Blazers this season. The 20-year-old rookie has been averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 16 games for Texas. He’s been a hot hand for the Legends as of late, posting a double-double 27 points and 16 rebounds in the Legends victory over Agua Caliente on Feb. 7.

It's perfect timing for both players to get some extra work in. The Trail Blazers and the rest of the NBA are on All-Star break. Portland's will return from the break and host the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. 

Social Media has spoken: Damian Lillard would have never let the All-Star Game go that long

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USA Today Images

Social Media has spoken: Damian Lillard would have never let the All-Star Game go that long

Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game was an overall experiment from the league with its new format.

And it seemed to work.

Both teams were playing a little bit of defense and the fourth quarter was way more competitive than it has been in recent years.

The new format looked like this:

Each of the first three quarters begin with the score of 0-0 and lasted for 12 minutes.  At the start of the fourth quarter, the game clock was turned off and a final target score was set of 157.

The final target score was determined by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points.

Team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were laying it all out on the line.

It came down to the free throw line with Anthony Davis hitting 1-of-2 to help Team LeBron secure the win. 

FINAL: Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155

Team LeBron had to score 33 points in the final period to get the win.

About halfway through the 33-point flurry, NBA fans started posting on Twitter about five-time Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard. They knew what time is was...

Fans were letting the world know that the game would’ve already been over if Lillard had been healthy enough to play.

 

One fan even mentioned, Lillard would’ve ended the game just like he did in the postseason against the Thunder.

Oh snap.  

As King James attempted a Logo Lillard game-winner, but with no success, fans were quick to say Dame would’ve had that one.

It wasn’t just fans in Rip City that wanted Damian Lillard out on the court.

Fans from all over the country were posting about how Lillard Time would've been spectacular down the stretch of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. 

NBA fans sure missed them some Logo Lillard.

This season, Lillard is averaging 29.5 points per game, while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 39.3 percent from deep.

This fan even went as far as to say that Lillard should've still won the MVP honors.

Even though Lillard was reppin’ Team LeBron from the bench and didn’t get a chance to get on the floor, it was clear that social media was missing Dame Time.

Fingers crossed the All-Star Game will have the same format moving forward for Lillard to shine once again and prove social media right. 

Damian Lillard is ready for the final playoff push: 'The urgency just has to be there'

Damian Lillard is ready for the final playoff push: 'The urgency just has to be there'

The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend did not go as Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had planned.

He was going to participate in the three-point contest.

He was going to get buckets and try to help Team LeBron get the win against Team Giannis in the All-Star Game.

But, with a strained groin injury that Lillard suffered in the last game before the break, his All-Star weekend turned into him focusing on getting healthy and performing his music in front of thousands.

Lillard admitted that his weekend in Chi-Town has been a lot more chill now that he’s injured.

In a sit-down interview with Trail Blazers Digital Content Manager Amara Baptist, the 5-time All-Star gave his thoughts on the weekend, an update on his health and how the Trail Blazers are ready for a final playoff push.

“Just to be able to lay low, be with my son, be with my family has been cool,” Lillard told Baptist.

Lillard said he feels ‘pretty good,’ just four days after suffering a right groin strain in Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and has been getting treatment and training while he has been in Chicago.

“It’s obviously sore, it’s a legit injury,” Lillard added.

The Trail Blazers team captain didn’t get to showcase his basketball talents this weekend, but he did get to share his musical talent with the world, performing on the NBA Saturday Night stage.

“It was cool just because being selected for the three-point shootout and the All-Star Game, and then not being able to play because I’m hurt, but still having a side of me or a talent that could be put on display was pretty cool,” Lillard said.

“Being able to share my music on the stage in front of that many followers and viewers, I thought that was real cool. I was excited about that, like it was my All-Star.”

In his 8th season, Lillard has been putting up historic numbers.

He’s been on a scoring tear.

In his last 10 games, Lillard is averaging 34.7 points, 9.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He is also shooting just under 50 percent from the  field, while hitting 47.2 percent from three.

Lillard admitted that it was tough not to compete in the All-Star Game this weekend.

I think we work so hard to be acknowledged for what we do. And this is like a reward that you don’t get to participate in… I realize that my health is first and my priority is my team if I want to come back and try to give us a chance to make a playoff push, then I can’t risk that by going out here and tweaking my groin a little bit more, making it worse than it is. Not only for this season, but going forward. I had to make a business decision, I guess. Obviously, I can even feel it, I know it wouldn’t be right to do from the standpoint of the future and the rest of the season it didn’t make sense.”  -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard

Now it’s all about the homestretch of the season. Portland does have a favorable schedule, too, with 15 of their final 26 games at home.

Lillard knows he and his team must come together and be on the same page.

I think the urgency just has to be there. I think in our last 12, 13 games, we’ve played with a mentality, an edge that we need to win games, and I think that’s why we’ve won more games than we have been winning, especially against the better teams in the league -- home and on the road. So, I think we just have to continue that. I think coming out of the break you’re going to start seeing teams who are struggling to stay in that race, just fade away. -- Damian Lillard

After having that look in his eye Wednesday night following the loss to the Grizzlies, Lillard said, “It’s far from over. Believe that. It’s far from over.” 

Lillard added to that message this weekend:

“I think we’ve got to be that team that continues to fight through because we’ve been here before, so I just think it comes down to the urgency and how much it means to us, and I know it means a lot to our team. I gotta get healthy and we just have to come correct, our mentality has to be right. We’ve got to be on the same page, we’ve got to play with that purpose,” Lillard said.

The 29-year-old also mentioned that getting Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and Zach Collins (left shoulder) back from injuries will only help them in the postseason.

“Once we get in [the playoffs], I’m pretty sure we’re the last team that anybody wants to see.”

*Mic Drop.

*Wave.

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE:

Devin Booker: 'Dame is one of my favorite players to watch'

Devin Booker: 'Dame is one of my favorite players to watch'

It was just four days ago that Damian Lillard suffered a right groin strain and then suggested that Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker should be his replacement for the NBA All-Star Game.

And that’s exactly what the league decided to do.

Despite not participating, Lillard was still introduced alongside Booker before Sunday’s game.  

Before action tipped off, TNT’s Allie LaForce spoke with Booker about how Lillard had mentioned that he was one of his favorite players to watch.

Booker feels the same way.

It’s a mutual respect thing. Obviously, Dame is one of my favorite players to watch too. So, I want to go out there and do what he would do – get a few buckets and hopefully get the win. -- Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker said pregame

This season, Booker is averaging 26.4 points, 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

Lillard spoke with the media on Saturday about how much of a fan he is of Booker’s game.

“I watch a lot of their games, just because I like to watch him play.”

The 2018 NBA Three-Point Contest Champ will now have Lillard on the bench cheering him on in tonight’s All-Star Game. 

Damian Lillard's tribute to Mamba during his All-Star performance

Damian Lillard's tribute to Mamba during his All-Star performance

The 2020 All-Star weekend is full of fun, excitement, drama and music. 

Five-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, who would not be able to participate after suffering a groin injury, would still be involved in the weekend in a way that no other has done before...

Perform on stage.

This isn't the first time Dame D.O.L.L.A. has taken the stage, but it was memorable in more ways than one. It was what he was wearing that stood out alongside his music and musical guests: a leather jacket with the words "Mamba Forever" on the back.

This tribute to the late Kobe and Gigi Bryant isn't the only way the All-Star weekend is celebrating their lives: Team LeBron and Team Giannis will be sporting jersey No. 24 jersey or No. 2 jersey during the All-Star game.

 

We all wish Damian Lillard was able to compete in this year’s NBA Three-Point Contest

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USA Today Images

We all wish Damian Lillard was able to compete in this year’s NBA Three-Point Contest

The original participants of the 2020 NBA All-Star Three-Point Contest included: Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings; Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks; Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls; Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets; Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards; Devonte’ Graham of the Charlotte Hornets; Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat; and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

But, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns replaced Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, who was forced to withdraw from the Three-Point Contest due to a right groin injury.  

It’s really unfortunate that Logo Lillard wasn’t participating, especially this year because of the new format.

The NBA put a new twist on things adding two new shots from 6 feet behind the 3-point line. The "Dew" green balls worth three points each.

The two rounds had 27 shots instead of 25 that took 70 seconds instead of 60.

The additional shots from the wing were known as the "MTN DEW zone".

The new shots from deeper range would have most likely helped give Lillard an edge, all of Rip City knows that.

In Lillard’s last 10 games, he is averaging an impressive 47.2 percent from behind the arc. 

But, Booker did Lillard proud with the ‘Dew’ green ball. Booker was the fourth participant to shoot in the first round and he was the first player to hit both of the ‘Dew’ deep three-balls. He put up 27 in the first round and 26 in the second round.

Booker, along with Hield and Bertans, were the three to move on and face off in the Final Round.

And boy, the Final Round did not disappoint.

It came down the final Money Ball.

Here are the results of the Second and Final Round:

Bertans: 22 points

Booker: 26 points

Hield: 27 points

This is the first time the Hield has taken home the 3-point hardware.

Now, here's to hoping they bring back the ‘deep’ three-ball for  next year’s competition, and Lillard will be a participant. 

Damian Lillard becomes first All-Star to perform on the NBA Saturday Night Stage

Damian Lillard becomes first All-Star to perform on the NBA Saturday Night Stage

Rip City has been anticipating this performance since it was announced last week that Damain Lillard would be performing on the music stage during NBA All-Star Weekend. 

Chicago’s Native rapper Common introduced DAME D.O.L.L.A.

“I’m proud to present not only an NBA All-Star, but this is an artist… Show some love to my guy, DAME D.O.L.L.A.,” Common yelled proudly into the microphone.  

DAME D.O.L.L.A performed ‘Money Ball’ featuring Jeremih followed by, ‘Run it up’ featuring Lil Wayne as Lillard became the first NBA player to perform on the NBA Saturday Night musical stage.

'Money Ball' can be found on Dame's latest album "Big D.O.L.L.A," while 'Run It Up' is on "Confirmed."

Lil Wayne didn’t make his way to the stage until midway through ‘Run it Up.’ Between Lillard and Lil Wayne’s presence on the stage, it looked like the performance brought the house down at the United Center.

Lillard also paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant by wearing a ‘Mamaba Forever’ jacket on stage.

After the show, Lillard took to the Trail Blazers Twitter account to share his thoughts on being on the big stage in Chicago, but not the typical big stage he is used to performing on during All-Star weekend.

All-Star Saturday-- it was a blast. It was a great time. I hope everybody enjoyed the show. I felt great out there and it was a great time. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on his Dame D.O.L.L.A. performance

Damian Lillard gets engaged to longtime girlfriend Kay’La Hanson during All-Star Weekend

Damian Lillard gets engaged to longtime girlfriend Kay’La Hanson during All-Star Weekend

Despite not being able to participate in the 2020 All-Star festivities, there was still cause to celebrate in Chicago.

That's because Damian Lillard popped the question over the weekend!

The Trail Blazers five-time All-Star asked his longtime girlfriend Kay’La Hanson at a private party filled with family and friends. 

The two have been dating since their college days at Weber State.

Lillard’s mom, Gina Johnson, shared videos on her Instagram of what looks like a star-studded engagement party.

From the IG videos it was fun to see a few of Lillard’s former teammates are in attendance. Evan Turner and Tim Frazier are in on the celebration, while Lillard’s close friend and mentor, former Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool is there as well. Chicago rapper Common was also in attendance.

And, can you say Relationship Goals?

Kay’La proudly showed off her new cushion cut diamond in the IG videos.

CJ McCollum, who proposed to his longtime girlfriend in September 2018, has joked with Lillard over the year, asking him when he was going to pop the question and Lillard would always just smile.

The 2020 NBA All-Star weekend was a great option.

The happy couple welcomed Dame Jr. on March 29, 2018 and ever since then they have been melting Rip City’s heart with their Instagram posts.

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Happy Valentine’s Day ppl. ❤️

A post shared by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on

Dame Jr. has even made his way to Blazer games and warmed up during pregame.

Can you imagine Dame Jr. in a little tuxedo for the wedding? Those pictures will undoubtedly be adorable.

From everyone at NBCSNW congrats on your engagement, Dame and Kay’La! 

Donovan Mitchell points to Jazz-Blazers missed goaltending call as to why he is 50-50 on Coaches Challenge

Donovan Mitchell points to Jazz-Blazers missed goaltending call as to why he is 50-50 on Coaches Challenge

Friday’s Rising Stars game started out with plenty of fastbreak dunks and some crazy three-point attempts as the 2020 NBA All-Star weekend is officially underway.

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Pacers big man Myles Turner joined TNT’s Brian Anderson to call the game.

During the first quarter, Mitchell shared his thoughts on if he likes the new addition of the Coaches Challenge.

In explaining why he isn’t completely on board with the new addition to the game, he made sure to add that there was plenty of talk about during their controversial game against the Trail Blazers, which was exactly one week ago today.

Oh yes, Blazer fans remember.

With under 14 seconds to go and a chance to tie the game, Damian Lillard went hard to the rim.

It was clearly a goaltend on Rudy Gobert, but there was no call.

Lillard was furious, asking for a replay, but with no call on the court, no review could take place.  

And thus, Mitchell explained just that during the TNT Rising Stars broadcast.

I’m 50-50 on it. I’m not going to lie to you. I think the biggest thing with the Challenge is, I think the rule -- there’s more you can add to the rule. We had a game against Portland that got a lot of attention just because the whistle may not have been [blown]... I think you should still be able to challenge that. I think that’s something that the league may need to take a look at. -- Donovan Mitchell on Coaches Challenges

“It’s a tough job for the refs,” Mitchell added.

Of course, nothing can help change the results of that Blazers-Jazz game from last Friday; but hey, Rip City – now you know at least Mitchell is advocating for a change on national television.