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.