Trail Blazers rookie guard CJ McCollum took questions from the media regarding breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during practice on Saturday. McCollum spoke to the media while on crutches and with his left foot in a boot.
Lead us through how you suffered the injury.
We were, I’d say, halfway through the practice, going through a little ball screen defensive drill. Live action. Coming off a ball screen off the sideline, close sideline, I faced the hard edge, had a hard edge coming out. Went for the throwback pass, just natural instincts, and stepped on the foot. Rolled it … in. Knew there was some pain, had felt it. I’ve twisted my ankle worse before, so didn’t really know. I thought it was just a little sprain, crawled off. Then I walked. It’s funny. I actually walked to the shower, walked to get the X-Ray, and then just waited for the news.
Sounds like you were surprised?
Yeah. I was definitely surprised. Just looking forward to the next steps and trying to figure everything out. Talking to doctors now.
Is there a plan for surgery?
We’re in the midst of that now. I was actually just speaking to one of the doctors just now before I came (to this interview). I’m going to go back and talk to him. Just talk through different options now. But as soon as possible, if it’s necessary.
Have they said whether your first injury and this injury are related?
We’re still not sure yet. I haven’t actually seen it on tape yet. I just remember the play. I’m going to watch it on film and then talk to two outside doctors, get their perspective on it before we make our next decision.
How disappointing is it?
It’s very disappointing. Coming in your rookie, being selected in the lottery. You want to come in and play and kind of prove yourself, earn your stripes. I was having a good training camp. I was playing well. I had been here … and then you go down with an injury. It’s tough. But at the same time, I’ve been through obstacles before and I look forward to bouncing back.
You had not experienced any setbacks or any pain or discomfort at all before the injury?
No. No pain, no nothing. Actually, we do testing daily on both feet. We test our heart rates, we test our workload. I was one of the more even guys in terms of strength and distribution between both feet. I was pretty much equal. Whereas there’s a lot of imbalances between other guys on the team. But things happen. Sometimes it’s out of your control. You just have to make the best of what you’re given.
Do you have a sense of how long you’ll be out and how much time you’ll miss?
No sense at all. But I look forward to returning.
How difficult was rehab the first time?
You have no idea. It’s a tough process. Basketball is a lot easier than rehab. But the best thing is I’ve been through it before. I know what I’m getting into now. I kind of know what to do, I know what to expect and I just look forward to the challenge. It’s a challenge getting to the NBA and there’s going to be injuries, there’s going to be stuff. You can’t help it. Sometimes it’s going to happen. But you just have to bounce back and do what it takes to be successful.
When you got the X-rays, when you heard the results, what was your reaction, what went through your mind?
Tough feeling. I was just very distraught. You work so hard to get to this level — they say it’s less than two percent chance of making it to the NBA and you make it. Coming off an injury it’s tough to get hurt again but at the same time, I’m not even supposed to be here, so an injury is just the last thing I’m worried about.
Coming off the injury the first time how long did it take where you felt like you were back?
I’m not sure. We end up losing early at Lehigh. We end up losing early so I’m not sure if I would have been able to come or not just because of the situation I was in. But at the same time this is a different level now. You’re dealing with the best doctors in the world, the best training staff, the best facility. So I’m sure I’ll be okay.
How did they treat it the first time? Did you have a screw or anything inserted into the foot?
Yes I did have a screw in the foot.
So you had surgery to insert a screw and they removed that afterwards?
No, the screw is still in place. It’s still there. The screw is perfectly fine.
Complicates things the second time around?
No. No, I don’t think so.
After you finished the first rehab have you had any pain at all in the last couple months?
No. It’s ironic, no pain. As I said before, I actually did some testing in the morning. We always do random, he did random tests on both feet, explosion and how quickly you get off the floor, lateral quickness. I did all that stuff.
Who was with you when you heard the news?
I was by myself.
Pain this time around as opposed to last time?
It wasn’t the same. When I broke my foot at Lehigh it was … I cried it hurt so bad. I cried. Didn’t hurt as bad this time.
How important is it that you still be involved with the team?
I discussed that with Coach Terry, some of the other coaches as well. That’s the biggest thing for me. I told them to treat me like the rest of the players that are healthy. I want to continue to learn, I’m going to be on the court. I take this game very seriously in terms of taking care of my body, eating the right stuff, lifting, making sure that I’m watching film and doing all the things necessary to make sure when I come back it’s a smooth transition.
Where are the doctors you’ll have to visit for the second opinion?
There’s a really good doctor in California. There’s a really good doctor in Charlotte.
Having gone through rehab once before anything different you would do this time around?
I’m more prepared, more mature. I know what I’m getting myself into, whereas before it was more of an experiment. I had never been hurt, I had never missed a game in my life. Now I know what I’m getting myself into.