CJ McCollum on Zion Williamson: 'Leave the young fella alone'

2022-02-25 08:42
Credit: AFP - Scanpix, USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix | Basketnews collage
Credit AFP - Scanpix, USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix | Basketnews collage

After the New Orleans Pelicans acquired CJ McCollum earlier this month in one of the biggest trades of the season, Zion Williamson has been heavily criticised for not reaching out to his new teammates. However, McCollum came to his defense last night.\\

"Leave the young fella alone man, he's trying to rehab in peace, trying to get himself ready to come back," McCollum started his interview to the Pelicans media. "We spoke and I'll speak to him later this week, or I'll speak to him next week, just to catch up with him."

"He's a very talented player and he's going through a lot, you guys are putting him on the spot, on the daily," McCollum continued. "I think he's just trying to recover on his own time and really focus on his rehab."

3-pointers this season

Points made: 10,7
Accuracy: 32,8%
Place in standings: 29
Record max: 16
Record min: 4
Most made 3FGs: Devonte Graham

"I've been injured before, so I know what it's like. You feel disconnected, you feel away, you wish you could be out there. It's tough. Mentally and physically, it's tough on the body," the new Pelicans star guard explained. "Then you have to read it about yourself all the time, I know it's frustrating, but I have a lot of respect for him. We are going to get along very well, and I'm going to be there when he needs me."

What is it like having to deal with a serious injury as a professional NBA player? "It's mentally frustrating for sure," McCollum says. " I broke my foot my senior year in high school, my rookie year, then I had a fracture a season or two ago. I know the rehab process, I know what it's like."

"All the things that you normally do, you can't do. You can't walk to the bathroom, you can't stand up in the shower, you have to put a chair in the shower, I had to go through all that stuff," the guard shared with the media. "It's frustrating. I don't know the extent of where he's at or where he was, but it's tough."

"It takes having a solid supporting cast, a solid family foundation around you kind of encouraging you, helping you, and then making sure you're doing the little things - eating right, getting your sleep, mentally kind of staying engaged," McCollum continued.

"I'm trying to always say - find things that make you happy, healthy joys, healthy habits," the newly-acquired Pelican advised. "For me, it's my son or yoga or walking my dog, or being with my wife, but I think those are really important for not only athletes' mental health, but for all of us."

CJ McCollum has been averaging 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists during this season. In his 5 games in the Pelicans uniform, the numbers are even higher - 28.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.

Zion Williamson, on the other end, has been sidelined throughout the entirety of the 2021-2022 NBA season due to a fracture of the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. In the season before, Williamson averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.

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