CJ McCollum is one of the most under-appreciated stars in the NBA.
But he doesn’t need anyone’s validation, acknowledgement or praise to fuel his passion for basketball. McCollum knows he is enough.
After McCollum poured 35 points on the Miami Heat Thursday to help lead Portland to a 125-122 victory, he earned the walk-off interview for his stellar performance.
When the NBA on TNT crew asked the Trail Blazers star about his mentality and supporting his teammates despite not getting an All-Star nod, McCollum said he doesn’t need others to validate his body of work.
“I just work extremely hard and I don’t need validation from outsiders, I don’t need validation from other people, because I know what I have and what I bring to the table.”
McCollum looked like a bonafide All-Star before suffering a left mid-foot fracture that sidelined him for nearly two months. Despite averaging 26.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 44.1% from three, all career highs, McCollum’s name was missing from the list of reserves for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
While accolades are great, McCollum values being a good person and helping his team win over making it to the big game.
“If I never make an All-Star Game man, I won’t be sad about it because I know I’m nice, and I know a lot of people respect my game,” McCollum said.
McCollum is still finding his rhythm since returning to the Trail Blazers lineup. But on Thursday night, after he and Lillard combined for 57 points vs. Miami, he reminded the NBA that Portland is a force to be reckoned with.
“I want him to be the best version of himself,” McCollum said of his backcourt mate. “That means sometimes I might have it going, but he’s the closer. You know what I’m saying? The ball was in his hands down the stretch, I had no problem with it win or lose. I understand the work he puts in and he understands the work I put in, and we continue to empower each other.”