How Lillard's past will help McCollum get through

How Lillard's past will help McCollum get through
October 6, 2013, 9:30 pm
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Blazers react to CJ McCollum injury

Rookie CJ McCollum addressed the media prior to the Portland Trail Blazers' annual Fan Fest scrimmage Sunday night, a day removed from fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone his left foot.

He was using crutches and had a walking boot on. His faced was smeared with frustration and the tone of his voice screamed it.

McCollum explained that midway through practice on Saturday, after coming off a ball screen, he stepped on a teammate's foot, and at first thought, he assumed he had sprained it. He even walked to the shower on his own power before having X-rays done.

The results were not what he expected.

Tough feeling, I was pretty distraught,” he said.

Most medical outlets say a recovery process for such an injury could range from eight to 10 weeks.

When McCollum broke his left foot during his senior year at Lehigh University, the same foot that's broke now, he said he cried, due to how much pain he felt. This one wasn't as severe.

He will consult with two doctors, one from California and the other from Charlotte, over the next couple days before deciding the next plan of attack. Surgery is the likely possibility but it's not a forgone conclusion.

General manager Neil Olshey says whichever path McCollum takes, he would expect him to be back in action by January.

His teammate, Damian Lillard, who McCollum has drawn comparisons to, being that they're both lottery picks from small colleges, has something else in common with McCollum.

Lillard fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in December of 2010, shelving him for the remainder of his junior season at Weber State. He says he sat out more than was necessary – about six months to be exact – in order to make sure he entered his senior season healthy as can be.

When Lillard first heard about McCollum's injury, it made him sick.

It made my stomach turn a little bit,” Lillard said. “Anytime one of your guys go down, that's not what you want to hear, just because I've been through that situation and I know the feeling where you're kind of in denial about it.”

Lillard always spoke highly of how his college teammates kept him involved and how much they often encouraged him while he was out. The team comradery, the support, did wonders for his psyche. It was a huge part of his rehab.

Now it's time for Lillard to return the favor, and he will.

The two share lockers next to one another and that's perfect as Lillard said he'll do his best to keep McCollum encouraged and involved with the team.

Me and him come from that same kind of situation, being at a small school, fighting against all the odds and being able to get here," Lillard said. "I'm sure he had a lot of people who were excited about his first season and now that he's had another obstacle come up, I think he'll be fine. But it's just sad that it had to happen to somebody that worked so hard to get here.”

Lillard stressed the importance of utilizing the cold tub, the jacuzzi, and rolling the foot over a tennis ball to relieve the stress during the rehabilitation process.

This is not McCollum's first go-around, he's up for the task and eager to get back on the court.

The best thing about it is that I've been through it before," he said. "I know what I'm getting into now. I know what to do, I know what to expect. I just look forward to the challenge.”

And for those who are wondering (panicking) if this is a season-ending injury, the question was asked to McCollum.

"Absolutely not," he reiterated. "The plan is to get back soon as possible."