Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has played a major part in Portland’s basketball resurgence for the greater majority of his now 7-year career. Drafted 10th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, McCollum started off slow his first two years in the NBA, averaging just around 6 points per game but has quickly become one of the NBA’s brightest stars.
Recently, McCollum had an interview with Carlos Watson on The Carlos Watson Show to discuss life as an NBA superstar, the journey it took to get there, and a variety of other topics including his first-time meeting Chicago Bulls’ legend Michael Jordan.
CJ McCollum Details Meeting the GOAT
“I go up to him to introduce myself. I’m like, “Hey, I’m CJ.” He’s like, ‘I know who you are,’” McCollum said on the Carlos Watson Show
McCollum had a breakout season in his third year, averaging 20.8 points per game on 45% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. This performance would earn him the 2016 Most Improved Player Award and he has been an integral part of the Blazers offense ever since.
“That was me meeting Mike. Had a shot with him. At that moment, I don’t get, I don’t go to that wow mode but at that moment I looked at my now wife and I was like, ‘Mike knew who I was. I used to stand in line for his Jordan’s. I used to stand in line for his shoes and he knows who I am,’” McCollum said.
Terry Rozier Recalls Meeting Michael Jordan
Meeting the most recognized and highly-held basketball player of all time is a surreal moment for many people. Terry Rozier, point guard for Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets, also talked about the first time he met Jordan after being traded.
“It was at the Aria in Vegas, we got lunch and we were outside,” Rozier said via Fadeaway World. “He was telling all his stories, about him lifting every day before the game, and him going against the Pistons, and they were putting him on his butt because of how physical they were. He had to go and get stronger.”
“It was just, I was looking in a daze while he was talking. It was crazy, like ‘I’m really here talking with Michael Jordan, he’s sharing all these stories and giving me all this game?’ It was crazy. It was my first time with him, and it was probably the best meeting I’ve ever had.”
McCollum Details His Journey To NBA Stardom
Watson also asks McCollum about the moment he knew he was going to become a professional basketball player.
“I say if you’d asked me my freshman year of high school, I would have told you that I was going to the NBA even though I wasn’t necessarily sure”, McCollum said to Watson.
“But my junior season once I… I told my dad that I was going to score 50 that night and my career high was 18 so he was laughing. He thought it was a joke. And then I went and scored 54. And after that game I thought to myself, if I can continue to get better like the way I’ve improved thus far, I can go to the NBA.”
Even with the confidence, just the thought of a 5’2” kid from Canton, Ohio making it to the big leagues is an anomaly. CJ knew that he would have to work hard if he really wanted to accomplish his goals.
“I think it’s just a combination of a lot of things falling in place”, he said. “I got lucky, but I was also ready when my time came. I didn’t just speak this into existence and then not go work for it. I verbalized what I wanted to accomplish and then I went and did it every day. I went and did it more consistently than everybody else.”
With the Blazers having a disappointing playoff exit in 2020 and McCollum having strong ties to the Midwest, it will be interesting to see what decision he makes with his free agency looming this coming summer.
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