“Leave The Young Fella Alone”| CJ McCollum Assumes Leadership, Defends Zion

CJ McCollum addressed the Zion Williamson situation at practice on Thursday and said he’s connected with Zion and that the young star needs peace to rehab and get himself ready to come back at some point. As a 10-year NBA veteran, McCollum is taking leadership in a situation that desperately needs it.

“Leave the young fella alone, man,” McCollum said. “He’s trying to rehab in peace, trying to get himself ready to come back.”

The discussion stems from comments made by McCollum that he and Williamson hadn’t yet connected since the former was traded to New Orleans at the deadline. Since everything surrounding Williamson has been shrouded in mystery all season it made headlines.

McCollum then came out and said the two did speak following his initial comments, so naturally people have questions. How is Zion? What type of condition is he in? What’s going on with the rehab? What exactly happened with the injury? Why is he rehabbing in Portland instead of New Orleans?

Nobody from team Zion or the Pelicans has been able to give any answers to these questions, so speculation and rumors persist.

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“He’s a very talented player,” McCollum said. “He’s going through a lot. You guys are putting him on the spot on the daily and I think he’s just trying to recover on his own time and really focus on his rehab. I’ve been injured before, so I know what it’s like. You feel disconnected. You feel a way. You wish you could be out there. And it’s tough, mentally and physically. It’s tough on the body. And you gotta read about yourself all the time. I know it’s frustrating. But I’ve got a lot of respect for him. We’re going to get along very well and continue to build a relationship and I’ll be here for him when he needs it.”

McCollum is right. Rehab is a long and lonely process. It is tough both physically and mentally. But Zion chose to do his rehab away from the team in Portland. So in essence he chose to “disconnect.” Does he not trust the Pelicans’ medical staff?

He wouldn’t be the first player not to, and he would be well within his right to seek medical advice from his own team of professionals. But most athletes that do that fly their medical team in so that they can continue to work near the team.

McCollum also said “you guys are putting him on the spot daily.” That’s the thing. Nobody is putting him on the spot, because nobody is talking to him.

When a player is injured they no longer have media responsibilities. The goal of course being their rehab. In place of hearing from the player, the team usually provides updates as appropriate.

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The Pelicans haven’t been able to provide anything because they seem to be unaware of what’s going on. Neither Zion or anyone from his team has made any updates either.

To be clear, he doesn’t owe us any details on his health. But that doesn’t mean people won’t speculate as to the reasons why.

It’s unfair, but that’s part of the deal with being a professional athlete. If you don’t try and control the narrative, people are more than happy to do it for you.

If this Mardis Gras float mocking Zion and the Pelicans is any indication, we know the story some in New Orleans are telling.


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