Recently, CJ McCollum joined ESPN as an NBA analyst and made his debut during Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. Early in the broadcast, Magic Johnson asked McCollum how he intends to grow his relationship with his New Orleans Pelicans teammate and young star, Zion Williamson.
McCollum is president of the NBPA and has played in 63 playoff games, including four Western Conference Finals contests. Both of those traits likely carry cache on a youthful, talented Pelicans club, particularly for someone like Williamson, who is still navigating all that comes with NBA stardom.
“I took him under my arms. I’m gonna make sure he’s right. We’ve been communicating this summer about times we’re gonna meet up and link,” McCollum said. “I’m gonna get him out here in New York, get some work in with me during Draft week. If he’s not watching this, he’s gonna see this clip. I’m getting him out to Vegas with me. We’ll get some time together.”
As his answer progressed, he also noted that he’s seeking some tutelage from Johnson about the complexities of being an NBA point guard. During McCollum’s time with the Portland Trail Blazers, he sat shotgun alongside Damian Lillard as the lead ball-handler. Now, in New Orleans, he’s the de facto point guard, so he’s aiming to grow that part of his game with some tips from an all-time great playmaker in Johnson.
“I need some pointers on how to run the show. I gotta make sure (Williamson is) happy, gotta feed (Brandon Ingram). I gotta make sure (Jonas Valanciunas is) getting what he needs to get,” he said. “I gotta take it to the next level. I know you can help me get there.”