From 2015-16 to 2019-20 as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, only a single NBA player logged more regular season minutes than CJ McCollum.
One of the more durable players of his time, the talented two-guard took to ESPN’s First Take along with JJ Redick, peeling the curtain back on some of the little-known misconceptions regarding load management, “designated rest days,” and a take on the question of if the NBA should shorten its season.
First Take host Stephen A. Smith offered a take on how different players’ perspectives on playing through pain can be, based on factors such as guaranteed money and stature in the league, to which McCollum — the National Basketball Player’s Association President, as well as a newly-named ESPN NBA analyst — offered his take alongside Redick:
McCollum: There’s this misconception, if you will, that players just choose to sit out games. JJ played in the league a long time. How often did your staff tell you, ‘JJ, this is a designated rest day?
Redick: I’d fight them on it. There’s a lot of guys that do fight their teams on it.
McCollum: Full disclosure here. I played in Portland with Damian Lillard for a long time, and everybody knows that. There was times where we’d go through the calendar, and were supposed to pick rest days. Dame and I would look at each other, and we would go through “designated rest days,” right? Back-to-backs. Four-in-five (four games in five nights), five-in-seven, whatever the case may be. We would agree to sit games.
The game would come up on the schedule. I would look at Dame, he would look at me. I would say, ‘I’m playing tonight. Are you playing tonight?’ He would be like, ‘Yeah.’ We would laugh about it because in reality, we sit those games and people think we were sitting healthy when in reality, the team’s job is to protect that eight-figure, nine-figure endorsement. And the way to protect us is to shield us from games where it’s considered “high risk of injury.”
CJ McCollum: "There's this misconception, if you will, that players just choose to sit out games. JJ played in the league a long time. How often did your staff tell you, 'JJ this is a designated rest day'?"— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 6, 2022
JJ Redick: "I'd fight them on it"pic.twitter.com/MThRnlRF6L
Given that above statistic on the availability of the two guards, it’s likely that Lillard and McCollum elected to bypass those “designated rest days” for the betterment of the team often. Over his last seven seasons, McCollum played in 60+ games in six of them, and 70+ in five of them.
Throughout the rest of the show, McCollum, Redick, and Smith hit on the NBA Finals and Donovan Mitchell’s ongoing status with the Utah Jazz, among much else.