CJ McCollum explains how New Orleans’ culture and people were a huge factor in his decision of joining the Pelicans.
After spending almost a decade with the Trail Blazers, CJ McCollum decided to part ways with the franchise earlier this year. During the trade deadline, the combo-guard made headlines when he was acquired by the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, among other players.
During a podcast appearance on The Players’ Tribune’s “Knuckleheads”, CJ went on to talk about his reasons to join NOLA. Talking about the culture, the city, and the people, McCollum explained:
“(New Orleans) is somewhere I wanted to go. Somewhere I could be successful. Somewhere that could be the best version of myself. I could help build this community and this team. I could play alongside some young dogs.
It was a combination of things. The culture, the city, the people, the love, you could feel it, you know what I’m saying. And I felt it from afar, like playing here. We got swept by the Pelicans. You know, when Jrue and AD was here. But just the atmosphere, and if you do what you’re supposed to do in a town, a city like this, you’ll be loved forever.
And if you embrace them the same way they embrace you, you can become legendary. I wanted to be where I was wanted, where I was needed. There’s a lot of culture here. A lot of diversity, the food is fire.”
“I’m what the Pelicans needed, they’re just what I needed”: CJ McCollum
The 2016 Most Improved Player went on to talk about the talented players on the team and how he was the perfect fit for the Pels, and vice-versa.
“They got a lot of young talent. They got a lot of really good basketball players. Coached by Willie Green, former player. They got Trajan that’s the GM. They got Griff. Zion. BI. JV. You know what I’m saying? D Graham, Herbert. There’s a lot of talent on this roster.
And I think I can get the most not only out of my career, out of my situation, out of my development, but also out of the guys. I know what it takes to be successful, consistently. And I can not only tell you about it, but I can show you because I’ve done it.
And I think that, you know, I’m just what they’re needed. They’re just I needed – especially at this stage in my life. And I think there’s no better time for me to be ready. Thirty years old, I’ve been in the playoffs eight straight years. Gonna try to make it nine.”
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The Pelicans are currently 10th in the West, only 0.5 games behind the Lakers, and 1.5 games in front of the Spurs. Along with Brandon Ingram, CJ will have to step up big time in the play-in tournament to lead the franchise to their first postseason appearance since the 2017-18 season.