CJ McCollum almost quit basketball, thank goodness his mom stepped in

CJ McCollum almost quit basketball, thank goodness his mom stepped in

Imagine a world where CJ McCollum didn’t become a Portland Trail Blazer.

Now imagine, McCollum wasn’t even drafted in the NBA because, as a youngster, he was ready to give up on his "ball is life" mentality.

That nearly transpired. 

During the NBA hiatus, Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam has been able to catch up with a handful of players. This past week, Olzendam sat down with McCollum over video chat.

In his seventh year in the league, McCollum is grateful for his mom and dad’s continued support.   

“My parents have done a tremendous job, over the course of my career,” McCollum said. “They try to make every game and I think my rookie year, my mom made every game… They’ve been really consistent and it’s all you can ask for as a kid.”

The now 28-year-old is just like all of us. 

He had doubts growing up.

Was he on the right path?

Should he stick with basketball?

These types of questions entered McCollum’s mind.

It’s crazy, I almost quit basketball when I was younger. Just all those things that I’ve gone through from a sports standpoint to having confidence -- [my parents] had confidence in me, the faith in me before I really had it in myself. So, I’m forever grateful and thankful. And I always tell them, you know, ‘I’ll try to repay you the best I can, but you gave me the gift of life, so there’s nothing much I can do.’ -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum  

From the sounds of it, McCollum wasn’t about to turn to football over basketball. He joked on his Twitter page, “I only wanted to play qb. Wasn’t going across the middle for anybody."

Basketball was his sport, but it took a big nudge, or a firm talking to from a special someone for him to not give up on his dream.

I was young. This wasn’t going well for me. It was like a turning point in my life where I had to make a decision. You know, how much are you going to dedicate yourself to this? And if you’re not, plan B, like -- I gotta get a 4.0 because [my parents] told me they weren’t paying for my school early on. So, I had to figure out a way to kind of delegate my time. I was working out and I wasn’t really performing the way I wanted to so I kind of had to figure out, okay, ‘what are you really going to do?’ And my mom was like, ‘you’re not a quitter, I didn’t raise no quitters...’ And the rest is history. -- CJ McCollum told Brooke Olzendam

McCollum also admitted that he’s not completely sure if he would’ve really pulled the trigger and quit basketball, even if his mom had not stepped in to help him stay on track.

Before the NBA was forced to suspend the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McCollum was averaging 22.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and tying a career best in assists with 4.3. The last time he averaged that many dimes was during the 2015-16 season. Last season he averaged 3.0.

You can watch the entire CJ McCollum interview RIGHT HERE

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard: Bonded by buckets

CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard: Bonded by buckets

The Bulls had no answer for CJ McCollum.

And then just a few days later…

The Kings had no answer for Damian Lillard.

Sounds about right in 2018.

Sorry, not sorry. 

Re-watching the Jan. 31, 2018 game at Moda Center where the Trail Blazers hosted the Chicago Bulls, there was a lot to love about the game and about that team.

It was CJ McCollum’s night from the tip. He was doing it all offensively – threes, step-backs, floaters of the glass, etc.

The Trail Blazers started the game outscoring the Bulls, 23-2, and it snowballed from there.

With just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter, McCollum hit a three-pointer to give Portland a 35-8 lead.

Yep, no big deal. 

McCollum scored 28 points in the first quarter alone, which was a franchise record.

Here’s the thing: It was his backcourt mate Damian Lillard who held the team record for most points in the first quarter with 26 points.

But not anymore. 

McCollum set the new record thanks to two made free throws in the final 35.2 seconds of the quarter. 

McCollum then went on and scored 50 points in just three quarters that night.

It was a 50-piece in less than 30 minutes of action.

McCollum was in a groove, no doubt.

For all those who know him, watched countless interviews of him, or have covered his basketball career, we know how often he has talked about not focusing on records, but more about chasing wins.

Which makes sense and is how it should be.  

I'm not into chasing records, man. I just want to win. Even throughout the game, I looked up and I was like, I can get 40. And then Ed [Davis] was like, ‘No, you need 50.’ And Dame was like, ‘Get 50.’ So I was like, 'OK, I'll get 50 if you guys want me to.' -- CJ McCollum said postgame

McCollum almost set another record that night, but was just nine points shy of the Trail Blazers’ record achieved by Lillard in 2017.

For the game, Portland shot an impressive 74 percent from the field in the first quarter paced by McCollum, who made four 3-pointers in the opening period. He finished with six threes on the night.

McCollum joined the esteemed group of 50-point Trail Blazers, which includes:

Lillard, Damon Stoudamire, Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Clyde Drexler and Geoff Petrie.

McCollum also joined Houston’s James Harden as the only player with 50 points in three quarters up to that point in the season.

(Remember: UP TO THAT POINT IN THE SEASON on Jan. 31)…

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had a hard time describing McCollum’s performance.

“I don’t know what the right word is, but a very impressive outing by CJ,” Stotts said after the game. “What he did in the first quarter was amazing. It was fun to sit back and watch that.” 

Yes, this win over the Bulls was an instant CJ McCollum classic.

It was a memorable game from Portland's 2018-19 season, that's for sure.

But, what a lot of Trail Blazers fans might remember about that season is that the starting shooting guard wasn’t the only Blazer to score 50 points in three quarters.

Less than a week and a half later, Lillard dropped 50 points in three quarters in the Blazers’ 118-100 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 9.

[RELATED]: Lillard’s Top Plays in his 50-point performance in Blazers win over Kings 

We all know that anything CJ McCollum can do, with probably the exception of breaking an enormous amount of players’ ankles and killing it from midrange, Damian Lillard can do too.

Quick recap:

  • The Blazers backcourt duo both reached 50 points in under 30 minutes of play within two weeks of each other.
     
  • Lillard was on fire from the start against the Kings (just as McCollum did against the Bulls) And THEN… Lillard scored 22 of his 50 in the third quarter alone.
     
  • Twenty-two points in the third quarter makes you wonder if Lillard knew he was within reach of McCollum’s impressive feat? And, with that fresh in his mind, he probably thought, ‘hey let’s become the first teammates to score 50-plus points through three quarters in the previous 10 seasons.’

So, did Lillard not want to be outshined by McCollum?

No.

That’s not the case.

Do you know these two?

That is what makes Lillard and McCollum a special backcourt -- They can go off and have phenomenal accomplishments and truly be happy for each other.

Lillard and McCollum have spoken many times about their tight-knit relationship they have on and off the court.

McCollum doesn’t mind that he isn't, ‘the man’ on this Trail Blazers team and he has said so countless times. He knows his role and is happy with it.

And it shows.  

The two lean on each other more often than not.

McCollum has also discussed how he and Lillard were friends long before becoming teammates in the NBA.

That foundation has only become stronger.

Lillard wants his backcourt teammate to have as much success as him.

Witnessing the relationship between the duo only makes the feat of scoring 50 points in three quarters within days of each other that much more special.

So, who else is thinking right now:

What else will this duo accomplish?   

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fry and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon along with special guest former Portland Trail Blazer Steve Blake.

How to watch: CJ McCollum's 50 points through three quarters vs. Bulls

How to watch: CJ McCollum's 50 points through three quarters vs. Bulls

Now that was a fun one!

On this Throwback Thursday we are throwing it back to January 31, 2018 when the Trail Blazers hosted the Chicago Bulls.

That night should always be known as The CJ McCollum Takeover Night.

In the 124-108 Blazers win, McCollum scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter and then finished the night with a career-high 50 points through three quarters.

He scored 50 points in under 30 minutes of play.

Not too shabby, huh?

It was the Trail Blazers’ 51st game of the season and up to that point McCollum's 28 points in the opening quarter were the most by an NBA player that year.

I'm not into chasing records, man. I just want to win. Even throughout the game, I looked up and I was like, I can get 40. And then Ed [Davis] was like, ‘No, you need 50.’ And Dame was like, ‘Get 50.’ So I was like, 'OK, I'll get 50 if you guys want me to.' -- CJ McCollum said postgame

McCollum finished just nine points shy of the Trail Blazers’ record set by Damian Lillard last season.

For the game, Portland shot an impressive 74 percent from the field in the first quarter paced by McCollum, who made four 3-pointers in the opening period. He finished with six 3s on the night.

With the win, the Trail Blazers improved to 29-22 overall and 15-10 at home.

McCollum joined the esteemed group of 50-point Trail Blazers, which includes:

Lillard, Damon Stoudamire, Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Clyde Drexler and Geoff Petrie.

McCollum also joined Houston’s James Harden as the only player with 50 points in three quarters up to that point in the season.

But, not to be out done:

Less than two weeks later, Lillard dropped 50 points in three quarters in the Blazers’ 118-100 rout of the Sacramento Kings.

That’s a pretty special backcourt duo. Now re-live McCollum’s 50-point night on NBCSNW tonight at 6:30pm.

Starters for CJ McCollum’s 50 points through three quarters night:

CHICAGO

Paul Zipser

Justin Holiday

Robin Lopez

Zach LaVine

Jerian Grant

PORTLAND

Al-Farouq Aminu

Jusuf Nurkic

Damian Lillard

Evan Turner

CJ McCollum

HOW TO WATCH: Jan. 31, 2018 game between Trail Blazers and Bulls

WHEN: Thursday, May 14 at 6:30pm 

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

CHANNEL FINDER

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.

Check out the full slate of Trail Blazers Classic Games right here.  

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fry and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon along with special guest former Portland Trail Blazer Steve Blake.

Denver columnist’s ‘fake tough guys’ comments gave Blazers motivation

Denver columnist’s ‘fake tough guys’ comments gave Blazers motivation

One year ago today the Portland Trail Blazers advanced to the franchise's first Western Conference Finals since 2000 after defeating the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7. 

To commemorate the occasion, Jason Quick of The Athletic published an oral history of the series-clinching victory, including how Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla called the Blazers "fake tough guys" leading up to Game 7.

Kiszla claimed the Blazers were trying to bully the Nuggets, citing the comments of Seth Curry after Game 6, who got poked in the eye by Will Barton during the fourth quarter: “They got some sassy dudes over there...front-runners."

Kiszla also took offense to Evan Turner flipping the bird towards the Nuggets bench after Michael Porter Jr. did the same to the Trail Blazers bench after Game 5. The latter fact isn't mentioned in Kiszla's column. 

Rick Riley, the team's director of security, linked the article with the eyes emoji for the group chat to see. 

"There’s only a couple of us who follow what’s being said or written about us, and so, sometimes Rick sends us stuff," recalls CJ McCollum. 

"The only time we really talked about all the stuff was when that article was circulated," said Evan Turner who was called "an end-of-rotation scrub" by Kiszla. "It was goofy as hell. That dude is a clown."

"Do these Blazers scare Denver? No way, no how. Let’s see Turner come to Colorado and put on that same bad-dude act," wrote the Denver Post columnist of Turner flipping off the Denver bench following a 119-108 Game 6 victory in Portland. 

Turner would record 14 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, seven rebounds, four assists and a block in the Pepsi Center. His primary defensive assignment, Paul Millsap, shot 3-of-13 from the field. 

Additionally, center Meyers Leonard saw the column which only added fuel to the team's fire.

"I remember Rick sending that, and thinking, All right you f***ers, you better strap up because I’m ready and I know the guys sitting next to me are ready as well." - Meyers Leonard

Leonard would score two points, a poster dunk on Mason Plumlee and Nikola Jokic, in seven minutes of play, and had a +/- of +9. 

McCollum would have the franchise's best performance ever in a Game 7 recording 37 points, including a jumper while being guarded one-on-one by Daniel Craig.

"I got me a little Bryon Russell-get-off-me move and as soon as I raised up, I knew it was cash," McCollum recalled to Quick. 

The Blazers star later tweeted that Craig didn't affect the shot at all. 

Not that they needed it, but thank you Mark Kizsla for poking the bear. 

Sincerely, Rip City. 

CJ McCollum’s ‘All-In Challenge’ auction fetches 37k bid

CJ McCollum’s ‘All-In Challenge’ auction fetches 37k bid

Ever wonder what it’d be like to hang out with CJ McCollum? One lucky fan is about to find out. 

As part of the All-In Challenge to aid those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, the Portland guard donated a package that included three trips: A Trail Blazers courtside experience, a trip to see a Cleveland Browns game and a trip to CJ’s favorite vineyard.

On Friday, McCollum’s auction closed, with the highest bidder forking over $37,000 for the experience. The starting bid was $2,500 and the auction altogether reached 35 bids. 

The package also included a signed pair of shoes, Trail Blazers memorabilia, a bottle of wine and a guest appearance on CJ’s “Pull Up” podcast. You can see the full list of the experience listed out on the auction page here. 

100% of the money raised through McCollum’s auction will go to Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry.

CJ isn’t the only Trail Blazers player looking to fetch some big bucks for a good cause. His teammate Carmelo Anthony is also participating in the All-In Challenge with 100 percent of the funds directly going toward Feeding America.

His special weekend includes a New York City experience and the current bid is at $13,000 as of Sunday morning.

But Melo fans will have to act quick to lock in the special weekend, the auction ends later today.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg.

CJ McCollum reveals his quarantine routine

CJ McCollum reveals his quarantine routine

Quarantine has been hitting everyone nationwide.

More than fifty days ago, the NBA suspended the season indefinitely following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus.

Since then, all NBA players have been in quarantine with the rest of the country, including Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who revealed his quarantine routine on his Instagram Thursday evening.

CJ begins his days with a quick workout before feeding his new puppy, Fiona, some "gourmet" dog food.

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

Due to not having access to a gym at the moment, McCollum relies on home workouts to stay in shape. The Instagram post shows off his plank form as he completes a workout from his house. 

In a recent Zoom press conference, McCollum mentioned that he would need a hard week of training to get into game shape, but he's doing his best at home to make sure he'll be ready to go when the season starts back up again.

"I think the first thing we would have to do is get in shape. Game shape -- obviously, we are all trying to workout," said McCollum. "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."

McCollum might not be playing NBA games, so he's pivoted to other games: Jenga, UNO and FIFA. He wrote he's "low-key unbeatable" in Jenga and becoming "more polished" at the soccer game. McCollum plans to release his Gamertag soon once he finishes a season in career mode. 

We're excited to see people challenge him online. 

Report: NBA considering Walt Disney World as possible site to resume play

Report: NBA considering Walt Disney World as possible site to resume play

Walt Disney World Resort might truly be the Happiest Place on Earth for the NBA in the foreseeable future.

As the league continues to look at different scenarios regarding a return to NBA action, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is being considered a destination spot to resume play. 

That’s according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

There have been plenty of rumors out there about the idea of all 30 teams playing the remainder of the 2019-20 season at a single site.  

Earlier this month, Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith, who was a Walt Disney Company employee for nearly 20 years while working primarily at Walt Disney World, suggested the idea of lacing 'em up at Disney World.

Smith wrote:

The idea is to quarantine all the players, coaches, trainers, officials, broadcasters and everyone else necessary for competition in one place. Think of something akin to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but with real stakes and actual rosters.

Many sites — Las Vegas; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Nassau, Bahamas — have been suggested for this type of event. Some locations have even lobbied for it. The challenge comes with finding somewhere that can provide the necessary housing, basketball facilities and the ability to create the absolutely mandatory bubble.

While many locations might come close, only one place can offer all of those things with relative ease: Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Smith cited the large number of hotel rooms on the Disney property along with practice gyms at The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the grounds of the resort as big reasons as to why Disney World would make sense as the site to restart the season.

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum has said multiple times in the last few weeks that he is in favor of the idea of playing out the rest of the season at a single site.

If it's safe and they're able to pull it off, I wouldn't mind playing in one city. It'd kind of give you those NCAA Tournament vibes a little bit. -- CJ McCollum

During a Trail Blazers video conference in late March, McCollum did; however, bring up his concerns about the logistical issues that come with playing in one site, including the rumored Las Vegas destination.

“I think if you did it in Las Vegas you’d have to shut down the strip," McCollum said. "I don’t know where you could find an area that’s completely isolated from outsiders. And that’s the problem that I think MLB and most sports are facing.”

NBA reacts to The Last Dance: "Say what you want, Dennis Rodman invented load management"

NBA reacts to The Last Dance: "Say what you want, Dennis Rodman invented load management"

Sunday evenings have now become a time for NBA players and fans to come together to watch ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan, titled, ‘The Last Dance.’  

All day, players and fans looked forward to episodes three and four. There was plenty of love on Twitter even before the latest episodes aired. Fans appreciate ESPN moving up the original airdate due to the ongoing stay at home orders with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Episode three was centered around the one and only Dennis Rodman. 

The episode and the tweets regarding Rodman were out of this world, just as you would imagine. 

This is how people recapped the Rodman Chronicles:

https://twitter.com/JimmySpencerUN/status/1254588195355820032

Rodman's midseason vacation to Sin City got people talking as well. 

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell pointed out that after witnessing Rodman’s 48-hour midseason vacation to Las Vegas (which turned out to be longer than two days), he joked that players nowadays can thank Rodman for ‘load management’ reasons to take a game off.

While, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love shared a thought that many opposing players probably felt when lacing ‘em up against Rodman:

 

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum made a good point as well:

Not all coaches who encounter a Rodman-type player have the mentality to give those players enough rope and in turn not try to change who they are as a person: 

There were plenty of quotes to remember in the latest episodes of the MJ documentary. In every interview referring to Rodman, they were always positive.

“To get the most out of him on the court you had to give him some rope and they gave him a lot of rope.” -- Steve Kerr on Rodman’s relationship with Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan

“I go party hard, I work hard… We get along so well because we want to win a championship.” -- Rodman said of his relationship with Jordan and Scottie Pippen

“Dennis was always there... He was always on point.” -- MJ on Rodman

Bulls head coach Phil Jackson was a big focal point of episode no. 4.

When Jackson took over for Doug Collins, Jordan told him, “Congrats, let’s go win a Championship.”

But in the documentary MJ added, “I wasn’t a Phil Jackson fan when he first came in.”

The triangle offense was not something Jordan was ready to implement.

Both of Sunday's episodes also focused on the hatred and physical battles between Detroit and Chicago with the Bad Boy Pistons owning the Eastern Conference no matter how spectacular Michael Jordan performed from 1987-90.

Media storylines consisted of “Control Michael and the win is yours.”

The documentary gave fans more of a glimpse into the ‘Jordan Rules,’ which consisted of ‘physically hurt Michael if he came in the paint.’

It was an emotional Michael Jordan that many of his teammates had never seen before, when he and the Bulls finally got over the hump and beat the Pistons in the East Finals in 1991.

As one might imagine, they were not pleased.

Our Trail Blazers Outsider Joe Simons summed up episodes three and four with three categories -- who had a good night, a bad night, and great night in the latest episodes:

 

And now we all look forward to next Sunday.

CJ McCollum felt like it was a game day gearing up for The Last Dance

CJ McCollum felt like it was a game day gearing up for The Last Dance

This week marked the 106th episode of the Pull Up Podcast with Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum and ESPN’s analyst Jordan Schultz. 

A majority of the podcast was spent talking about what they enjoyed most when watching the first two episodes of ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan. 

McCollum shared his first impressions of the first two episodes of The Last Dance:

I was just so happy to watch something new on TV other than what I watch on Netflix, that was involving basketball and the greatest player to ever play basketball. I was just excited, like it was a game day. I got a pregame workout in, I baked some deep-dish pizza -- Shout-out to the league for setting that up. The pizza was amazing… I think the storytelling aspect is what I really enjoyed most. -- CJ McCollum on The Last Dance

Much of the first two episodes of The Last Dance were centered around Scottie Pippen's unhappiness with his contract and with Bulls GM Jerry Krause.

McCollum had a lot to say about Pippen being the 122nd highest-paid player in the league for the 1997-98 season, but he didn’t blame Pippen for signing the original deal with Chicago.  

“It made sense for him to look at the median salary of where he was at. When he signed the deal he was the sixth highest paid player in the NBA at that time… And then the NBA landscape shifted and he was already locked into a seven-year, $18 million deal,” McCollum said.

You can say that he shouldn’t have signed it. It was a bad deal for Scottie to be locked into seven years, but you’re talking about a kid who is coming from a situation to where he was the equipment manager and you telling him that he’s gonna get $18 million guaranteed and a seven-year deal, that’s a long-term deal -- no matter how you perform, you’ve got guaranteed bread. So, I think when he was looking back on it, he probably was like, ‘eh I could’ve probably taken a two or three-year deal,' but whose to say everything would’ve worked out well. CJ McCollum on Scottie Pippen's contract with the Bulls

Seven years is an eternity in the NBA and that’s probably what a young Pippen must’ve been thinking as well.

“If he gets an injury in between that time, his value definitely would’ve gone down,” McCollum added. 

The Trail Blazers starting shooting guard also mentioned how social media has changed the NBA. But, he still couldn’t believe how the Bulls were able to keep all their problems under wraps back then. 

“They kept a lot of this behind closed doors… They honestly were dysfunctional.”

Listen to the entire podcast right here.

CJ McCollum accepts ALL IN Challenge, here's what you can win

CJ McCollum accepts ALL IN Challenge, here's what you can win

CJ McCollum is all in to fight against hunger. 

The Trail Blazers guard took to Twitter Tuesday to accept the ALL IN Challenge and he’s dishing out a once-in-a-lifetime experience to help those in need.  

The ALL IN Challenge is a digital fundraiser created by Fanatics which aims to alleviate food insecurity for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

And McCollum put together quite the package for any sports fan, knowing that it’s going to a good cause.

The winner will first fly to Portland to attend a Trail Blazers game courtside and receive a signed jersey, a signed pair of shoes and handpicked memorabilia from McCollum himself. Then, you and a guest will fly to Cleveland and attend a Browns game with CJ, which includes on-field access and game tickets. 

Last, but not least, the third trip includes a trip for you and a guest to CJ’s favorite winery. The trip includes a tour, tasting and complimentary bottle of wine. In addition, the winner will be a guest on McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast.

The opening bid was $2,500 and has increased to $6,250 with eight bids at the creation of this article.

You can see the full list of the experience listed out on the auction page here. 

100 percent of the proceeds raised will go directly to Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry. 

Be sure to check out this week’s Talkin’ Blazers Podcast.