Blazers star CJ McCollum’s shocking retirement admission after scary lung injury
C.J. McCollum took the floor for the first time since December 4th on Monday, helping the Portland Trail Blazers to their first consecutive road victories of the season with a convincing 98-88 win over the Orlando Magic.
The ninth-year veteran looked plenty comfortable after spending nearly six weeks on the sidelines, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting while playing under a minutes restriction. McCollum got to his regular spots as a pull-up jump-shooter and used herky-jerky drives to separate from defenders around the basket, not quite forcing the issue offensively but clearly making an effort to be his typically aggressive self with the ball.
Weeks of preparation leading up to his highly anticipated return from a collapsed right lung made McCollum’s first game back easy.
“I feel good, I feel good,” he said after the game. “I worked extremely hard over the course of the last few weeks, conditioning, building my body back up, getting up shots even when I’m tired. I think you can tell.”
When McCollum first received his official diagnosis, though, it wasn’t just the prospect of being out for the foreseeable future that had him worried. Unaware of the treatment options and timeline toward recovery from a pneumothorax, the 30-year-old even pondered whether his career might be over.
“When you hear collapsed lung, you think the worst,” McCollum said. “First I’m thinking like am I gonna be okay, and then two I’m thinking like am I gonna be able to hoop again? Is this it? I’m nine years in, like do I gotta walk away? I always put my health first and my family first. I got to talking to doctors, pulmonologists and speaking to specialists, and they’re like this is common, this happens a lot.”
The Blazers announced on December 23rd that McCollum’s lung had fully healed and he’d be ramping up for a return in early January. He would’ve been back in the lineup sooner if not for the birth of his first child last week, who—along with his wife, Elise—a beaming McCollum couldn’t stop raving about on the post-game podium.
“This is probably the most happy and at peace I’ve ever been in my life,” he said.