NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 13: CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans is interviewed after the game against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2022 play-in tournament on April 13, 2022 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

CJ McCollum describes new ESPN role as ‘cool’ and an ‘honor’

Young hoopers across the nation and globe aspire to land the dream job of becoming an NBA player, something CJ McCollum achieved in 2013 when he was a first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers. McCollum also remembers growing up in Ohio and watching ESPN’s daily morning news and sports debate shows, such as “First Take.” The 30-year-old is now a guest analyst on the network, a prominent part of ESPN’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Finals.

The well-rounded McCollum – who is also President of the league’s players association – is adding yet another line to his extensive resume this month, working Finals games and studio shows for ESPN. The Boston-Golden State series is being broadcast nationally by ABC; McCollum has been featured on ESPN2’s live alternate broadcasts of the games.

“I’m literally on a break from First Take right now (to do this Zoom interview),” McCollum said Monday in a meeting with numerous basketball reporters. “How cool is that? I get to join a lot of the shows I watched as a kid and be a part of the process.”

Dating back to college, McCollum has had his sights on a potential career in the media, graduating from Lehigh (Pa.) University with a degree in journalism. Over his nine seasons as an NBA guard, McCollum has averaged 19.2 points and shot 40 percent from three-point range, while simultaneously developing his skills in fields he may pursue when he eventually hangs up his basketball sneakers.

“I think it’s an honor to be able to work for the Worldwide Leader in Sports, alongside some of the greatest in the business,” McCollum said of his ESPN gig.

McCollum is traveling to Boston to analyze Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Finals. Entering his first full season with New Orleans in the fall, McCollum said he would prefer to be playing right now, but expressed appreciation for the opportunities he’s getting from ESPN, which include his popular podcast moving to its platforms.

“I’ll be covering Game 3 of the Finals in Boston,” he said. “How cool is that?”

After helping to lead New Orleans to a playoff berth, McCollum is spending this offseason preparing for 2022-23 both on and off the court. He views his current ESPN responsibilities as significant experience that will help him continue to prepare for future opportunities.

“This is all just a learning process for me,” he said. “I go through phases. I make short-term goals and long-term goals. Right now the short-term goal is to learn more about the business, learn more about journalism in general, expose myself to something I wouldn’t normally be doing, getting more comfortable figuring out what I like and don’t like. Develop a plan going forward (at age) 31, 32 and 33. (Based on constant changes in media and social media), it’s hard to say what the future holds for me, but right now I like the present and where it’s headed.”