Kobe Bryant: The player CJ McCollum was always afraid to meet, but probably had the greatest impact

Kobe Bryant: The player CJ McCollum was always afraid to meet, but probably had the greatest impact

The NBA lost a legend Sunday. 

Kobe Bryant, gone too soon at the age of 41, died in a helicopter accident outside of Los Angeles in Calabasas. Nine people, in total, died as a result of the crash. 

For those who saw him play, they watched in awe. 

For those who covered him playing, they marveled at his relentless pursuit of perfection and high standards of excellence. 

For those who played with him, they called him a brother. 

Kobe Bryant set the standard for what preparation and work ethic looked like.

His relentless obsession for perfection is something the sports world may never see again. 

He was a renaissance man. 

It shouldn’t have happened like this. 

Now, those who played with him, who learned from him, attempt to put into words where no words would do it justice. 

But, they try anyways. 

“I’ll never really be able to express the impact he had on my life,” Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said Sunday night after the Trail Blazers 139-129 win over the Indiana Pacers. “My work ethic, my approach — our whole family, we were all Kobe fans.”

Kobe Bryant helped change the game of basketball. He spent 20 years playing with one team, the Los Angeles Lakers. It was there that he became a five-time NBA Champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and 18-time All-Star, four-time All-Star MVP, 11-time All-NBA First Team, nine-time All-Defensive First Team… the list goes on.

Kobe Bryant, whether you love him or hated him during his playing days, will go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history. He lived on a stratospheric superstar level. 

That’s why, when other NBA players played against him, it was impossible not to notice. 

“The first game of my career was against Kobe,” Damian Lillard said Sunday. “I don’t really get nervous or get butterflies. But, I walked on the court and was like that’s Kobe over there. I’ll always have that memory.”

“I always tell people, he was the guy that I was afraid to meet,” McCollum added. “Him and Michael Jordan. I knew LeBron growing up, so, although he’s Mount Rushmore great, Kobe was the one I didn’t really know. So, that was a guy I was afraid to meet.”

Bryant was the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He finished his career with 33,643 points. Just one day before his death, LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. 

Back in 2015, McCollum and Kobe shared a moment on the court, which he described after the fact.

“I’ve been watching you since I was a kid,” McCollum told Kobe. “I appreciate what you’ve done for the game and I appreciate your work ethic. People don’t understand what he’s been through and how much he appreciates the game. And coming back from all of those injuries, it takes a special type of person to mentally re-focus and come out and play at a high level.”

Beyond basketball, Bryant had many business ventures, which included those in and out of sports. He touched countless lives. Almost everyone has a Kobe Bryant story. 

“Just to see the reception across the country, how many lives he impacted from people that didn’t even know him, that shows you how special he was outside of basketball,” McCollum added. 

“I just pray for his wife and for his family because Lord knows what they’re going through right now.”

Memories from 1990 Game 2 Finals between Trail Blazers-Pistons

Memories from 1990 Game 2 Finals between Trail Blazers-Pistons

It was 1990 and the Trail Blazers had not been expected to make it to the NBA Finals. But they did. And against the powerful Detroit Pistons, who were defending champions.

Portland won only one game against a team featuring Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aquirre, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, and Bill Laimbeer.

The Nasty Boys, they called them.

Portland won only one game in that series -- Game 2 in Detroit -- and you’re going to get to see that contest Thursday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest.

It’s an opportunity to see some special performances, particularly one by Clyde Drexler, who had 33 points, including the game-winner, in a 106-105 overtime triumph.

And it’s also a good look at the late Drazen Petrovic, who came off the Portland bench and hit four of five shots.

The Pistons got a big game from Laimbeer, a Blazer killer throughout the series. The Detroit center -- a stretch-5 way before it became fashionable in the NBA -- hit six of his nine shots from three-point range on the way to 26 points.

Laimbeer went wild in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring 19 points over the final 17 minutes of the game.

But the Trail Blazers won the game at the foul line. Drexler hit two free throws with two seconds to go in overtime after being fouled by Rodman on a drive down the lane.

Terry Porter went 15-15 from the foul line, several in key situations, to help seal the win.

It was the high point of the series for Portland, which returned home to Memorial Coliseum and lost three straight games.

HOW TO WATCH: 1990 NBA Finals Game 2

WHEN: Thursday, April 9 at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)


Stream the game here.  

Or stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

CJ McCollum gives out phone number on Twitter

CJ McCollum gives out phone number on Twitter

It's been nearly a month since the NBA suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and NBA players are getting bored.

Some have been passing the time by streaming on Twitch or Instagram Live or creating other content such as TikTok's.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has decided to fill his time in a different way. While he's responded to many of his followers before on Twitter, the most famous being Jennifer, McCollum has now taken his relationship with his fans to the next step.

He gave out his phone number, kind of. 

"What up? I just want everyone to know that I have joined the Community app. I'm going to be leaving my number for everyone and I'm looking forward to it. So text me. Peace!" said the guard in his video giving out the number: 503-743-0354. 

The Community app, according to the New York Times, is "a tech company in Los Angeles that has raised $35 million to help corporations, stars and other high-profile clients manage direct messaging with a mass audience." So this isn't McCollum's personal cell phone number, but it's as close as Rip City will get. 

McCollum appears to be following in the footsteps of former teammate Meyers Leonard and his wife Elle who gave out their phone numbers on Instagram a few weeks ago. 

While the Blazers guard has been staying in shape, with the pandemic happening McCollum hasn't been in his normal routine, telling reporters on Wednesday that he'd need about a week to get back into game shape and he hasn't shot a basketball in at least two weeks. 

With that new free time, he adopted a dog named Fiona, who made her press conference debut on Wednesday as well.

[RELATED]: CJ McCollum is fostering a puppy during NBA hiatus and what's not to love

So now's your chance to ask CJ anything you want to! Hurry! 

Damian Lillard gives advice to his younger self

Damian Lillard gives advice to his younger self

It is hard to believe that Damian Lillard has been with the Portland Trail Blazers for eight years now. Eight years of being the leader and face of a franchise, and undoubtedly, the sports hero of the city.

Damian Lillard will hit a big milestone coming this July that he has yet to face. He will turn 30 years old.

During his interview yesterday with Ernie Johnson on the NBA's Twitter account, Lillard was asked what would be the best advice he would give to a younger Damian Lillard right now:

It seems like Lillard is really trying to live in the moment now, instead of just moving on from important events that he lived through during his career so far. Lillard recently watching his game-winning shot in game 6 against Houston on NBCSNW and descirbed how he never really “lived” in that special moment: 

I watched the game and I was like.. man. Right after I hit the shot, I remember that night I was like looking forward to like..we can go to the finals and we can win it. Even when the season ended I was like “we lost” next year we have to come back better. I always just move on from stuff— I just have a hard time embracing and sitting on them for a while.

We have seen Lillard grow from a promising Rookie of the Year recipient to a fierce leader and competitor that he has grown into today for the Trail Blazers.

It is great to see him finally be able to live in those special moments that he has created for us in these last 8 years.

You can check out the full interview over at the NBA twitter page here.

Why the next NBA season could start on Christmas

Why the next NBA season could start on Christmas

With the suspension of the NBA season and no return in sight with a decision date of May, at the earliest, there's real doubt that the 2020-2021 NBA season will begin on time.

As unfortunate as a delay would be, it could be a blessing in disguise for the NBA at large. The league has been rumored to be considering a move to starting the NBA season on Christmas day rather than having Christmas be a special game a few months into the season like it stands now. 

The rationale behind the idea, as Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin explained at the Sloan Analytics Conference pre-pandemic, would be having the NBA season start later means it wouldn't have to compete with the NFL or NCAAF as much, and it would have the spring and summer sports season seemingly to themselves as far as national attention goes, which leads to more money: "Relevance equals revenue. We've got to create the most relevance, and the revenue will fix itself."

On the latest Talkin' Blazers podcast with Dan Sheldon and Channing Frye, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joined the show and said he's always been in favor of shifting the schedule to begin on Christmas, but getting buy-in from the players would be difficult. 

Moneywise, you can argue both sides. From advertisements being that you only have one, you know, face but at the same time...that Christmas game, if you play on on Christmas, that is something. That is special. And to make that everybody plays and that's the beginning of the [season]? I don't really know about that. - Channing Frye


There's precedent for beginning the season on Christmas when the shortened 66-game 2011 season began on Christmas Day following the lockout. 

However, don't count Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard for being in favor of starting the season in December, as he spoke against the idea in a recent press conference.

“I don’t think so,” Lillard said. “I just don’t see it. I mean, the season starts when it starts now, then February all-star weekend, getting toward the end of the season in April and then getting into the playoffs. You get that early June Finals and then you get to go off into your summer.”

Many players enjoy having their time off in the summer rather than in the fall. 

 “You get to enjoy real-time summer,” Lillard said. “Our break is into the summer and then you get to come back as summer is leaving. I think that’s been perfect.”

His backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, although would be fine starting next season on Christmas if it meant finishing out the current 2019-20 season: " I would be okay with a delayed start to next season if that meant that we would be able to finish out this season." 

You can listen to the full podcast here.


How to Watch: Trail Blazers vs. Pistons 1990 NBA Finals Game 2

USA Today Images

How to Watch: Trail Blazers vs. Pistons 1990 NBA Finals Game 2

The Palace of Auburn Hills was rocking.

Two undefeated teams at home in the playoffs were set to battle each other in Game 2 of the 1990 NBA Finals.

It was June 7, 1990 when the Portland Trail Blazers tied up the series against the Detroit Pistons at one apiece in an overtime thriller on the road.

The Trail Blazers hadn’t been to the NBA Finals since they won the NBA championship in 1977. From ’77 to 1990, the Blazers made the playoffs every year except 1982, but had been eliminated in the first or second round more often than not.

Portland finished the 1989–90 season with a 59–23 overall record, earning them the third seed in the Western Conference.

Here's how the Blazers got to the 1990 Finals:

  • Portland pulled off the sweep over the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
  • Defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the Western Conference Semis. 
  • And eliminated the Phoenix Suns in six games in the conference finals.

As for the Pistons, Detroit had won its first NBA championship the previous year.

The Blazers were facing The Bad Boys who were now without physical forward Rick Mahorn.

The Pistons posted a 59–23 overall regular season record to take the top spot out East.

Both teams split the two regular season meetings, each winning at home.

Game 2 of the 1990 Finals marked the first time in six years that a Finals game went into overtime. The last Finals game to go to OT was Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Now you can re-live all the 1990 NBA Finals Game 2 magic tonight at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Starters for Blazers vs. Pistons 1990 Game 2


Joe Dumars

Bill Laimbeer

Isiah Thomas

James Edwards

Dennis Rodman


Buck Williams

Clyde Drexler

Terry Porter

Jerome Kersey

Kevin Duckworth

HOW TO WATCH: 1990 NBA Finals Game 2

WHEN: Thursday, April 9 at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)


Stream the game here.  

Or stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

CJ McCollum stands by estimate of players living paycheck to paycheck

CJ McCollum stands by estimate of players living paycheck to paycheck

First and foremost, CJ McCollum is just like you: He wants the NBA to resume more than anything.

“Obviously, you want to play," McCollum said during a Trail Blazers video conference Wednesday afternoon. "I want to get back out there and play in front of fans preferably, but I think we are in a position where we can't execute that right now, honestly. So, we have to wait and see how things go.”

The seven-year veteran has been vocal on social media about how guys around the league need to be smart with their money and look to other avenues outside of basketball to help their money grow.

In a recent interview on ‘The Boardroom,’ McCollum threw out an estimate of 150 of the total 450 NBA players live paycheck to paycheck

“I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting especially people on minimums or people that didn’t just budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen. Maybe they loaned money or paid money to family. Maybe they’re taking care of multiple people and now there’s a work stoppage and for a lot of people in America,” McCollum said on 'The Boardroom.'

Wednesday, McCollum clarified:

A lot of people took that out of context. But, what I was basically saying is that I think there’s a lot of players based on what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced, the research I’ve done -- that either mismanaged money or aren’t in the position to make the right decisions financially because they’re the first generation of wealth. It’s hard to manage money when you’ve never had it before and everyone around you has never had it before. And, it’s not an excuse, it’s not like me saying -- ‘feel sorry for us, we make millions of dollars.’ It’s not saying, I’m struggling. It’s saying that a lot of players especially years two through four are still trying to figure themselves out. They’ve either hired a financial advisor or are in the process of hiring someone. -- Trail Blazers veteran CJ McCollum      

As for the 150 players living paycheck to paycheck, McCollum still stands by that number.

“I would say it was just an estimate, but I think it was an accurate estimate, honestly. I think players and not just players in the basketball realm, but athletes and people all across the world have to really take advantage of resources outside of what they’re doing with their day-to-day life… Really budget correctly.”

Yes, there are people out there who believe NBA players throw their money around at frivolous, unnecessary and materialistic crap.

But, as McCollum explained, there are players who have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle AND there are some who are trying to do what they think is best and that's help out family and friends.

I think a work stoppage, it affects everybody whether you have money or not. It affects people around you or it affects you directly, and I think as a professional athlete a lot of times during these times you’re helping people literally. And, I’m not saying it’s the wrong thing or right thing to do, but I’m saying that a lot of players [are helping out financially], especially now, they said 6 million people filed for unemployment last week. -- CJ McCollum 

The 28-year old continued, “I have family members that are struggling and are in a position where they need assistance and you have to do what you can when you can, but I think the biggest thing that I’ve heard from players is they’re worried about free agency. They’re worried about, obviously, when checks are gonna completely be stopped because they have to budget accordingly."

McCollum looked as though he was speaking from the heart when talking about how the entire world is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Everyone is going through it right now -- The pay may stop, but the bills don’t. The bills are continuing to come in and depending on what type of lifestyle you have, as I said on Twitter/Instagram the other day, some people have child support, some people have a certain lifestyle that they are accustomed to living, and it’s definitely gonna have to change.”

Since the end of March, there have been reports that the NBA is looking at different scenarios of cutting players’ wages.

This week, the league reportedly proposed that the players take a 50 percent paycheck reduction, while the Players Association countered that with a 25 percent reduction of paychecks starting the middle of next month.

A typical NBA contract has payments on the first and 15th of every month during the season, but different pay schedules can be worked out within individual contracts.

When McCollum was asked what would be fair for a player to be paid, he pointed out that a good majority of the season had already been played.

“I think fair is being paid for your services. So, that’s eighty percent or 90 percent whatever the case may be. I think that’s fair. We can figure out the rest of the numbers, but I think everyone can agree… If you worked and done something, you want to be paid for that work,” McCollum said.

As for not saving enough money for a rainy day (as my grandma would say), McCollum mentioned how some players may have made poor investments or some players just flat out don’t know how “to make their money grow.”

Here was his advice:  

“I just cautiously advise people to really save. To really plan accordingly, because at some point if we don’t continue to play, pay is definitely going to change or come to a halt,” McCollum said.

Damian Lillard says Dame range is now the half-court line

Damian Lillard says Dame range is now the half-court line

Everyone is finding creative ways to stay in contact and check-in with one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Turner Sports broadcaster, Ernie Johnson, checked in on with Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard for a Periscope interview Wednesday afternoon. 

The two chopped it up regarding a number of topics, including his daily routine and what it's like spending more time with Dame, Jr. 

And according to Lillard, he's fully on board with completing the season.

“If we are gonna come back, let’s come back and do it. If we come back, we are already gonna be further along into the year than we would have been. I think it is only right to play it out.”

But, one thing that stuck out during this interview is how Lillard said confidently that he can pull up “comfortably” from taking half-court and flirts with expanding his range when the season gets back going.

The only reason I haven't done it is because I don't want to push it that far consistently because that's just crazy. But, I can literally do it. I'm going to do it in one of these games. Watch.

We have seen Lillard taking shots that most NBA players would never take. But from half-court? If Coach Stotts is comfortable and says go for it, then why not? 

You can check out the full interview over at the NBA twitter page here.

Zach Collins still gets hate mail from Warriors fans after run-in with Klay Thompson

Zach Collins still gets hate mail from Warriors fans after run-in with Klay Thompson

Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins joined Trail Blazers courtside reporter Brooke Olzendam on the latest episode of OlzenGRAM Live Wednesday to discuss quarantine life.

During the live IG video on the Trail Blazers Instagram account, the two discussed several different topics including Collins’ signature haircut and whether or not a hotdog should be considered a sandwich, which Collins had a tough time answering. He went back and forth, but ultimately, Zach decided a hotdog is NOT a sandwich.

Now that we got the important stuff out of the way, let's talk about how Collins does not back down from anyone. 

Brooke threw out a fan question, who wanted to know if he has a favorite “trash talking moment.” Collins smiled saying, “I know what people want me to say.”  

And, guess what?

He said it.

Yep, Collins’ favorite chippy moment came back in Feb. of 2019 when he was not about to back down from Warriors guard Klay Thompson.

“In that moment I probably said some things I shouldn’t have, but you know, I was in the moment, I was hyped. It was against the Warriors and everybody’s trying to beat them… We had been going on a run and I was just like, I didn’t care who it was -- you were getting it that night if you came up to me,” Collins said with a smile.

Collins didn’t reveal exactly what Klay said to him, but he admitted that after Thompson was jawing with him, he “went crazy for a second.”  

“[Klay] said something to me and I turned around and I saw red. I just went crazy for a second… I got a lot of clout from that. I got a lot of followers,” Collins joked.

It wasn’t just Rip City hitting Zach up on social media.

Enter, Golden State Warriors fans.

“I got a lot of hate mail from Warriors fans… I still get it to this this day. It went on probably the rest of the year.”

Not only is the Klay Thompson incident is favorite trash talking moment so far in his career, but he also learned something about Warriors fans:

“They’re passionate.” 

It sounds like Zach isn't looking for any more hate mail. 

CJ McCollum reveals how long it'd take to be ready to play in games again

CJ McCollum reveals how long it'd take to be ready to play in games again

It's been exactly 20 days since the NBA shutdown teams' training facilities and it's been nearly a month since the league was suspended. 

The only Trail Blazers currently allowed to enter the practice facility are those still receiving treatment during their rehab-- Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Rodney Hood. 

As players do their at home workouts and continue to try their best to stay in shape, it’s not the same as being able to go to team’s training facilities and get in their typical workouts.

During a Trail Blazers video conference Wednesday, shooting guard CJ McCollum described what he thinks the process would look like if in fact they are cleared to resume play this summer.

I think the first thing we would have to do is get in shape. Game shape -- obviously, we are all trying to workout. We’re trying to do what we can at home. Some people are going on runs, maybe riding bikes. I have a stationary bike… But, it’s not the same as physically getting up and down and playing on the basketball court so I think you have to take some time to kind of go through that process, that period of one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, five-on-five -- getting up and down full court, that’ll be very helpful. -- CJ McCollum

From playing one-on-one to three-on-three, McCollum believes that teams would then be able to transition that to getting back and competing in full court scrimmages.

But that’s the thing -- it will be a process.

It’s not as if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is going to clear players to return to their practice facilities and then bam!! -- We’ve got NBA games that week or even that following week or two.

There are players out there who have discussed how fortunate they are to have a nice home gym, like Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, and how they are still able to get in somewhat normal workouts. But, that’s not the case for many of the players, especially the younger ones.

“I think it would take us some time to say the least, especially depending on when we would end up starting,” McCollum said.  “This is like day 28, so that’s 28 days for most guys that haven’t shot a basketball, most guys haven’t been on a court in general unless you have one or are going outside, but it’s still not the same as playing an actual game or an actual practice.”

The 28-year-old also mentioned that it is his rhythm that he is more concerned about at this point.

McCollum and his teammates are in constant communication with Trail Blazers Sports Performance Specialist Todd Forcier.

“I told Todd the other day, I’ll stay close. I’m like a week away” of being in game shape.

Forcier has been assembling stationary bikes for a few of the players including Nassir Little and Zach Collins, who have limited workout access in their current living situations.

The Trail Blazers are doing their best to stay connected and stay in shape with Zoom video conferencing.  

A few of the players have been doing Zoom yoga classes that McCollum said he was missing Wednesday's class because of the Zoom press conference, but he’ll catch up on the workout later.

The Trail Blazers starting shooting guard reiterated that he knows he needs to stay within striking distance of being able to play an NBA game. That is why he is staying “at least one week away” from being able to get up and down the court effectively.

If we were to come back we wouldn’t be able to play a game for at least a few weeks, is my guess -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

McCollum does not have a basketball court at his home, but this quarantine has made him rethink that.

“It’s hard to train in a way that’s effective when you don’t have all the resources, and I’m not complaining about it, like this is the situation that I’m in, I’m cool with it, but to actually be able to shoot would be great. I thought about buying a court.”

Former Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is helping out his former teammate, though. The Leonards still own their house in West Linn and have already reached out to McCollum about him using their court.

“I’m actually thinking about going to Meyers’ house. Meyers has a court that they said I could use their little basketball court. So I’d be able to go get some shots up… Even if you go buy a court or whatever the case may be, it’s not the same as like the normal workouts you’ll go through, the normal stuff that I’ll be doing to kind of prepare for the season and for games,” McCollum said.  

“I haven’t shot a basketball in at least two weeks,” McCollum added.

Being able to get shots up for McCollum and the rest of the Blazers who don't have a basketball court at home would probably be more of a positive thing mentally than physically at this point in the hiatus.