Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, NBA, Basketball
Image Via USA Today Sports/Jaime Valdez

Lillard, McCollum Discuss Coexisting As Stars On The Same Team

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum form one of the NBA’s best backcourts. They’re up there with the pairings in Golden State (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), Washington (John Wall and Bradley Beal), Toronto (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), and Houston (Chris Paul and James Harden). Lillard and McCollum, 27 and 26 years old, respectively, have the Portland Trailblazers sitting at third in the West. The squad is surging and has won 10 games in a row.

In a new interview, the pair sat down with ESPN’s Chris Haynes. Over dinner, they discussed their relationship, coexisting as stars on the same team, their goals for Portland, and more.

Lillard said it’s important that they recognized to win in the modern NBA, they need each other, which is why he was comfortable mentoring the talented and emerging McCollum.

“I’m 100 percent confident in what I can do,” Lillard said. “I know that in this league, if you really want to win, you’re going to need other good players. You’re going to need people who can dominate a game just like you can dominate a game.”

McCollum said while he was at Lehigh he used to watch Lillard’s games at Weber State through online streams. Lillard said forming a relationship with McCollum was easy because of their shared backgrounds.

“We come from similar situations, as far as going to a small school and having to carry a load for our college teams,” Lillard said. “Eventually we became teammates and it made it easier, because we didn’t have to try to force anything.”

Haynes tells the guards that Portland has far exceeded his expectations; he expected to see the Blazers in the seventh or eighth seed. This leads to a comical back-and-forth between the athletes and journalist.

“The proof is in the pudding,” McCollum said. “This is my fifth year in the league and this is going to be our fifth year making the playoffs…getting more wins, getting 50 wins consistently, getting out of the first round, getting out of the second round, I think once you consistently do those things, then your perception changes a lot.”

Watch the full interview between Haynes and the two young stars below.

About Aaron Mansfield

Aaron Mansfield is a freelance sports writer. His work has appeared in Complex, USA Today and the New York Times. Mansfield is a PhD candidate at UMass Amherst.

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