Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum discusses Blazers title hopes, and winning one for Portland

Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum has become a staple of the Portland Trail Blazers alongside Damian Lillard for almost a decade now.

Although the two have developed differently in the league. McCollum came in from Lehigh and was relegated to the bench for his first two seasons. He was inserted into the starting lineup once Wesley Matthews departed and has made that starting spot his ever since.

In his past seasons in Rip City, he’s been through the ups and downs, but now at 29 years old, he’s hopeful a team can be constructed around him and Lillard to make a push towards a championship.

Hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy and having a parade with thousands celebrating them has been a topic of discussion between the Blazer guards.

"We have discussed it in detail, on multiple occasions," McCollum told Bleacher Report. "What it would feel like, what it would look like, from down to what car would you take? Are you driving the drop top? Is it a pick-up [truck]? It's something we think about, something I think about often, whenever I take the drive to the arena, how nice it would be to have that parade."

He and Lillard, at least publicly, seem to seriously believe they can win a title for the Blazers. 

Athletes have the utmost confidence in themselves. It’s the people not within the confines of their sport that may come off as “haters” to them, but in the grand scheme of things, are realists.


Looking at the Blazers roster, the realist approach is this: the team isn’t necessarily a title favorite. They have an adequate starting five and decent pieces off the bench, but it would take a lot for them to pull off the unthinkable.

​​”I think whenever we step on the court, we have a chance to win a championship,” McCollum said. “If you don't have that mindset and that mentality, then you shouldn't play. That's my mindset and mentality every year—to compete at the highest level, to really focus on being the best version of myself as a player to help us win. That being said, I feel like every year we have a chance to win a championship. But in the NBA, there's so many things that go into that. You need a little bit of luck.”

The last sentence McCollum said is key, because “a little bit of luck” is required for every eventual champion. If it weren’t for Kevin Durant’s foot being on the three-point line by a smidge, the Bucks may have been eliminated and don’t become champions. As for their Finals opponent, the Suns, they won the Western Conference facing a Lakers team with a compromised LeBron James and Anthony Davis; a Nuggets team without Jamal Murray; a Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard.

Luck is for sure needed.

“A lot of luck, timing, health, everything matters,” McCollum said. “You gotta get breaks at the right time. Scheduling matters. You look at a lot of teams that are favored to win every year, you have to be healthy first of all, or you have no chance.”

With the Western Conference looking kind of wide-open outside of the Lakers and Warriors, this could be the Blazers’ year. This could be the “luck” McCollum speaks of. Now it’s just a matter of the team capitalizing on it by staying healthy and playing defense.