C.J. McCollum scored seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away from the Orlando Magic in the first road game of the 2018-19 season. It started a four-game, six-day road trip through Florida, Indiana, and Texas, and was the first of 15 road trips in a season that ended with the eighth-highest regular-season win total in franchise history.
Two years later, McCollum and the Blazers again opened their road schedule with a four-game trip, though this time it wasn’t a cross-country trip in four different cities. And it wasn’t the first of 15 trips. This year, it was a four-game, seven-day swing through three cities in California, the first of only 12 road trips as the NBA limits travel during the COVID-impacted season. But while road trips across the league were cut by approximately 20 percent–and one-game road trips by approximately 40 percent–the travel is especially “brutal,” this year, McCollum told Olivia Harlan Dekker on the Unleashed podcast.
“I’m coming off a foot fracture. We don’t practice because you got testing, you got travel, you got games every other day,” McCollum said on Unleashed, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. “It’s hard to kind of put everything together. So I’m basically getting into rhythm in games, which is trial and error, some great moments and some terrible moments.”
McCollum broke his foot in the Blazers’ win over the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 16 and didn’t return until their March 16 game against the New Orleans Pelicans. The ninth-year guard missed 25 games and four road trips during the two-month absence but hasn’t missed a game since and is averaging 38 minutes played over the last five games.
“There’s no real time to rest, so you just got to pick your spots . . . but then also for me, being able to step away from basketball has been extremely important. So meditating, I have wine not only to drink but projects that I’m working on to where I can kind of escape.”.
Listen below to the full Unleashed interview with McCollum, in which he discusses his love for wine, the NBA’s wine club, Lehigh’s win over Duke in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, and more: