We Are All C.J. McCollum
And goddamnit, Jennifer, we are trying.
Screen capture via Twitter, Photo by Jamie Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday, because Don DeLillo is the author of reality now, the Blazers’ second best guard and first best podcast host C.J. McCollum appeared on Chinese state television. In the course of the interview, the reporter, displaying either a tremendously canny knowledge of the topic that would get C.J. antsy, or a profound ignorance of the topic that would make him look kind of bad, asked C.J. about the era of the super team, and if he or other players would be keen to join them. C.J. said that he thought joining a super team was disgusting, that most players—the non Kevin Durants and DeMarcus Cousinses of the world, one presumes—would never do that because PRIDE and winning a CERTAIN WAY matters more than titles, and that they only want to win with certain teams.
This is the second time C.J. has talked about this in public and also the second time he has seemed more than a little absurd doing it. You might recall, when he had Kevin Durant on his podcast about a month ago, he managed, in the span of an hour, to just absolutely dominate himself, over and over. He got EXTREMELY mad at Durant’s (fairly reasonable, considering that pretty much every notable undersized, yet skilled ball-handling shooting guard in history has done it) suggestion that he could be a versatile and useful piece off the bench on a title contender. C.J. also suggested that the Blazers could have signed DeMarcus Cousins, who just watched in a suit from the opposing bench as Portland got swept in the first round. Cousins also happens to play the same position as Jusuf Nurkic, who Portland had just signed. Then he TOLD THE WORLD that when he saw the news that Cousins had signed in Golden State, he got extremely not mad and sent Boogie an irritable text message. He also sat there when Durant told him not to worry about what’s going on “At the top of things” which was, I mean, just really tremendously mean.
This is all to say that C.J., who studied journalism in school and kind of thinks of himself as a savvy media operator, has been spending the whole fucking summer just wandering in and out of interviews, stepping on rake after rake, and just sitting there while bruises collect on his head and blood pours down his face, what from all the rake beatings he is managing to give himself.
AND THEN, in brave defiance of all good public relations commons sense, C.J. just couldn’t fucking help himself. Just stay quiet, the reasonable voices of the world whispered into his ear! Just calm down! C.J. spat in their faces:
Out of context! It is not me, sitting here on Chinese State Television declaring COWARDICE in the heart of everyone who signs with the Warriors after my team got absolutely wrecked by the fucking New Orleans Pelicans, like, three months ago, who is mad, it is actually everyone else who is saying I am mad, honestly making that up. They are wrong here, how could you think I seem bitter AT ALL?
It was quite a thing. And then, Jennifer walked in.
Is there any sentence written in this fucking hellhole world we find ourselves living in that more broadly expresses the sense of IMPOTENCE and irritability of LIVING right now than “Im trying Jennifer”? Please, God, this is hard, cut us some slack, we really do want to win but it’s hard, c’mon.
C.J., it should be noted, was, like, extremely short when he was a high schooler. He was a late bloomer in college, coming into the NBA from a small-as-hell program that didn’t generally manufacture NBA talent. He had to be ornery to overcome all that—confident, low-key insane, he had to, if you will, have a chip on his shoulder. You would think, in a purely rational world, that C.J. would, uh, let the chip slide a little bit after getting an NBA contract that will pay him more than $25 Million next year.
BUT ATHLETES CAN’T JUST TURN IT OFF, MAN! C.J. can’t stop turning the world into a conspiracy to destroy him. For years, while he was shorter than his peers, he must have fucking BLED AND DIED to make himself into an excellent basketball player in a body that, by NBA standards, could probably safely be described as “Not horrible.” He was a one man war, fueled by spite. Sitting on a giant-ass pile of money, I would probably declare the war over, but that’s why I’m not C.J. McCollum, despite being about the same height. If the engine runs on spite, well, fuck, you can’t just convert that bad boy into ethanol without going to a therapist who might want you to become something aside from a more efficient basketball killing machine.
And so, here he is, sitting on the shit end of a playoff sweep, his squad getting vaguely mismanaged and looking like maybe it could be in for a shitty year, no All-Star appearances to his name yet, irritable and jet-lagged halfway across the world, appearing on the news to pump up the weird Chinese sneakers he gets paid to sell, getting asked about if, in his opinion, the way the world is newly fucking him over is going to keep fucking him over. Then he gets mad, he gets online, and, eventually, exhausted, dying, he just slumps over and says fuck, goddamnit, I’m trying, please, this shit is so hard.
Our man is having a terrible summer, for sure. But, goddamnit, with half the West Coast on fire and the country living through turmoil they haven’t seen in fifty years, who isn’t, man? C.J.’s rake-bruised face is OUR rake-bruised face.