Culture of Hoops

The Grueling NBA Season With C.J. McCollum

Image courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers/Facebook.

Image courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers/Facebook.

It’s 8AM and Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum is already up. He’s got his patented C.J. McCollum show at 8:30AM on Rip City Radio 620AM with Bunker and Danforth. “I’m feeling pretty sleepy” he said on the show this Friday morning.

While it sounds like a normal time to get up, he’s probably only gotten about six to seven hours of sleep.

The prior day he suffered a defeat to his Western Conference rival Houston Rockets, and was at the arena till almost midnight.

If your an NBA player, you’re constantly on the go; either practicing, playing, or doing media relations. In many ways, it’s a double-overtime, around the clock job.

Players don’t just play the game and go home, this isn’t high school basketball like some may think.

Typically, a player will start his shoot around in the morning, go back home for a couple hours, then return to the arena about four to five hours before game time.

In that four to five hours, they do some more shoot around, talk with the media, get dressed down for the game, do a team talk, and then it’s game time.

Image courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers/Facebook.

Image courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers/Facebook.

From game time, it goes to post-game, where they have other discussions with the media, answering questions from “why’d you struggle in the second half?” to “what clicked for you guys?”. It’s an open forum where they’re required to answer some of the most obvious questions. This can last up to an hour after the game, bringing you close to 11:30PM depending on how late the game goes.

That’s barring any setbacks, like having a huge night statistically, where the media is there for a longer period of time. Not to mention, if you have fans like C.J. does, he’ll kindly stop for every last person to snap a photo or sign an autograph.

Totaling it up, its about a 16 hour day. But it doesn’t necessarily stop there.

Now, he’s got a plane to catch right after his morning interview. He’s got to pack and get ready for a six game road trip, where his first destination is Chicago. Time is of the essence as the team’s plane leaves around 11AM.

They’ll get into Chicago and likely have the a team dinner, outing, and then possibly get some shots up before tomorrow’s game against the Bulls. The same routine for game day applies for this away affair, however they may get a little more rest allowed, due to the time zone changes and flight.

After their game in Chicago, it’s on to Indiana, right after their game ends. They play the next night in Indy, so they’ll be playing one of their 19 back-to-back games.

The road trip is six games in nine days, heading from Chicago to Indiana, Indiana to New York, New York to Boston, Boston to Toronto, Toronto to Detroit, and then finally Detroit to Portland.

Happening on and off throughout the season, consuming so much of their time, it’s very much more than a regular job.

While not every NBA player is as media savvy as McCollum, it’s still a grind that takes a ton of time, energy, and effort, more than anyone would know or acknowledge. From radio interviews to DJing his own show, he’s always filling his time with something for fans, the city of Portland, and the Trail Blazers organization.

Moving to the off season, it’s more of the same. C.J. works on his game, flying around the country to coaches, players, and other trainers who can help him improve. He’ll continue to turn attention to media, help out with covering NBA finals material, and potentially get some time with his family and friends.

The glamour of being an NBA player is great, the pay is wonderful, but I think we all look at their job and think how easy it is. I’m here to tell you that it’s not and while these guys love what they do, they work extremely hard to get better, improve, and help the community out.

Did C.J. tell me to write this story? Not at all.

I recognize that being an NBA player is an extremely difficult and tasking job, not only physically, but mentally. I think what’s impressive is how much he has to do and how much he actually does. He goes above and beyond, answering every question, attending to the fans, and still improving his game.

Seemingly, people seem to think this team and collection of players for the Trail Blazers is the norm, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. The attitude and time given by the Blazers players to media members, fans, and other representatives, are typically not treated with the same caring, kind, and willing nature compared to other NBA teams and players.

Spending 16 to 18 hours a day on your job doesn’t always sound like a fun thing, but these guys seem to enjoy it, make it fun, and cherish their time in the league. It’s rare you find players like C.J. who are talented at so many things, offer so much, and still keep a positive, genuine, and caring attitude.

Appreciating and understanding the rarity of players who genuinely care about others, the community, and have time for everyone, is hard to do when you don’t fully understand their job. I think illustrating the amount of hours in a day someone is working and putting it into perspective really helps with that.

While it may be a dream for most anyone to play NBA basketball, it’s certainly more then just playing a game.

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