CJ McCollum flips on himself, Damian Lillard out of games
New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum made his first appearance on ESPN First take recently and he had a lot to say. One of his most controversial statements centered on players missing games when healthy. The 30-year-old veteran got brutally honest in his post as he described how it worked while playing alongside Damian Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers.
McCollum confessed that players sitting out of games are indeed a reality within the NBA – or at least for the Blazers. The former Most Improved Player winner went on to explain the rationale behind the same and why it’s a necessity when it comes to protecting players and team interests:
“(You) talked about healthy players sitting down. There’s this misconception, if you will, that players just choose to miss games,” McCollum began. “…Full disclosure here, I played in Portland for a long time with Damian Lillard, everyone knows that. There were times when we were going through the calendar and we were supposed to pick rest days. Dame and I would watch each other and go through “designated rest days”… We would agree to sit games. The match was coming on the schedule, I was looking at Dame, he was looking at me, I was saying, ‘I’m playing tonight. Are you playing tonight?’ He would be like, ‘Yeah.’ We’d laugh about it because in reality, we sit these games and people think we’re sitting healthy. Really, the team’s job is to protect that eight-figure, nine-figure endorsement, and the way to protect him is to protect us from games where he’s considered ‘high risk’ for injury.”
– First Take (@FirstTake) June 6, 2022
It’s a poorly-kept secret in the league that teams choose to seat their players even if they aren’t injured. This is frowned upon by the NBA and depending on the situation, some teams are being fined for their actions. McCollum just spilled the beans on the Blazers here after admitting he and Lillard would pick specific days to sit down and rest.
McCollum eloquently explained why it’s kind of a necessary evil in the game and how, at the end of the day, it’s all about prioritizing player safety.