CJ McCollum On Postponement, Staying Indoors And Being 'A Full-Time Doggy Dad'
CJ McCollum isn't used to having this much free time. A tireless worker, the 6-4 guard out of Lehigh is often one of the last players to leave the court after practices, has a regiment of non-court workouts, including yoga and meditation, and participates in offseason runs with various NBA players during the summer months. But with the coronavirus pandemic impacting nearly every aspect of daily life, McCollum has found other ways to while away the hours while following recommendations from public health officials to remain indoors and as isolated as possible.
Here's what CJ had to say about the first days after the NBA announced that the 2019-20 NBA season would be postponed until at least mid-June, his thoughts on how the NBA season might proceed, his attempts at social distancing and being a "full-time doggy dad..."
What was it like for you in the initial days after the NBA announced the season would be postponed?
CJ McCollum: "It was weird, I kind of knew it was going to be a while, so I didn’t go into the practice facility right away. I think we had a team meeting the next day, so I went in for that, grabbed some things I figured I might need. Had Melo sign some stuff and he’s like ‘This isn’t goodbye!’ and I was like ‘Just in case, lemme get some stuff signed now. Don’t forget to pull me a jersey,’ kind of going through that process of how I would normally do things once the season ends. But then understanding that the season is going to resume at some point, we just don’t know when.
"Went home, relaxed, basically took like a week off, just recollecting myself, enjoying time with my fiancé, staying in the house, staying out the way, going on walks, that type of stuff and then I began to get back int the mindset of working out again. I get to workout, I lift and then close the facility down, so I was like ‘Alright, I guess I should have built that gym when I figure bought this house.’ You never know what’s going to happen, so now I’m ordering stuff I can use in the house, thinking about building something where I can actually lift and have everything I need here. The process and problem with that is, for one, you don’t know who’s working right now. For two, you don’t want to put anybody in position to comprise their health. And three, by the time it’s done it’ll be time to start (the NBA) again and I won’t even need it.
It’s different, but I’m just thankful that my loved ones are in a place where they’re safe, they’re in the house, they’re following the protocol, social distancing and all that stuff. It gives me perspective to kind of relax, sit back and kind of take it all in and be still for a minute."
With the life of an NBA player typically being so regimented and scheduled, have you found yourself forgetting even for a moment that there are no games to play or watch or is this regular life now?
CJ McCollum: "I’ve shifted, my mentality has shifted. It’s shifted to the offseason mentality in terms of no alarm, wake up when you feel like it, get done what you need to get done. Understand that you’re probably going to have to come back to play at some point, but also understanding that you need that rest, mentally and physically, you only get away from the game. The pounding is gone, you can still workout and do some sorts of things that you would normally do but you’re not physically going to get that five-on-five practice and game play that you would normally get almost every day."
Do you have any thoughts on how you think the league should proceed or how they might proceed once the outbreak is contained?
CJ McCollum: "I think as long as they’re doing what’s right from a health standpoint for all parties involved — fans, players, ownership, coaching staff — I think as long as they follow the rules, guidelines and regulations that are issued by the government, I think we’re in a good place and I think the NBA has been at the front of the line in terms of making decisions that are health-based and not based on finances. I think as long as we continue to follow those guidelines, we’ll be in a great spot to return at some point. Whenever that is, I know they won’t rush it, I know they’ll make sure everything is in place the way it should be. When that time comes, we’ll be ready to go, but until then, I think it’s best we’re as safe as possible: staying in the house, making sure that we’re reducing everyone’s chances of obtaining the virus and spreading it."
How are you handling staying indoors and the changes in routine? Seems like a lot of people are going a bit stir-crazy.
CJ McCollum: "I’m good. I’m staying in the house, just got some kettlebells in, ordering some more products to workout in the house and some more products for my new puppy.
"I think people should definitely take this seriously. Obviously you have the age gaps to where you’ve got kids of spring break wildin’ out, you got a lot of different stuff you’re seeing and that’s just part of that generation and culture of not taking things seriously. But then you have the people who are following protocol, are staying in the house, especially the people who are more mature. I’ve left the house four times in the last 15 days now. Once was to get my puppy, one was to get some gas and then I went on two walks. I’ve basically been in the house for almost two and a half weeks.
"It’s been hard to not workout and do some of the things I normally do but it’s also been a nice challenge of just enjoying nature, enjoying sitting around with people you care about, having real conversations. People are probably putting together puzzles, playing board games, doing things they wouldn’t normally do in the house. It’s just more human interaction, I think that’s good for the body and soul sometimes because we live on our phones, we watch sports, we watch different TV shows, we go through that cycle of constant movement to where now, we’re complaining about the things we’ve wanted and yearned for. We always wanted a break, we always wanted to sit down and be home for more than two days. Now you’re forced to be home and no one wants to stay in the house."
There are certainly worse ways to spend the time that fostering a puppy. What’s her name? How is it going so far?
CJ McCollum: "We’re still working on that. We’re foster parents right now but we’re probably going to be adopting knowing us. We’ve had her for five hours, she hasn’t barked once. Trying to get her to go pee, but it’s a process. I don’t know what type of owner she had before us, she’s a little shy, she’s definitely scared and timid, but we finally hand fed her and trying to get her to drink some water. We’ll get there, we’ll come around. I had Rottweilers growing up so this is just taking me down memory lane again.
"It’s definitely something my fiancé and I have talked about, we both grew up with dogs — she grew up with Yorkies, I grew up with Rottweilers so we had to find a compromise. I told her that we’re not ready for a dog full-time, she went behind my back essentially and fostered a dog without telling me until I got home and then told me what kind of dog she asked for because she knew that I would be like ‘Oh, okay.’ And here we are. I’m excited about it, I’ve had dogs before, obviously in different situations and circumstances as a kid where I walked it, I cleaned up after it but my parents were like the sole ownership group. The only time I had a dog by myself, I was 14. My brother and I wanted to get a Rottweiler but our mom said it was our responsibility full-time, so we took care of it, we trained it and all that stuff. And then the season started and it was just too much, we had to make a decision.
"I’m happy that I can actually take care of it, I can be around it, I can really put time in. I’m sure people out there that are fathers and mothers right now are really enjoying being around their kids, although I’m sure it’s painful at times. This is probably the only time in our lives to where everyone will be in the house essentially 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. This will probably never happen again in our lives, honestly, because of work and travel and families and people just being socially connected. This is our time to really engage and be around each other. I’m a full-time doggy dad right now. I’m watching my dog sleep right now, that’s how engaged I am."