CJ McCollum made his triumphant return to the Moda Center Thursday night, making solid work of the short handed, and very young, Trail Blazer roster. His Pelicans team won 117-107. McCollum netted 25 points after being welcomed by the crowd with a rousing ovation and tribute video. It was a surreal night for sure. CJ has been a seminal part of the Trail Blazers’ franchise for almost a decade. To see him in Moda wearing another uniform felt out of place for many.
But it was also nice to see the former shooting guard find his niche and write his own journey.
The game was a reminder for fans about just how special CJ’s play meant to the city and his running mate, Damian Lillard. In his final years, CJ was treated as a burden for this roster. A shooting guard who could not defend and was a slightly inconsistent at times. Basically a solid “B” version of Damian Lillard.
So much of his legacy is also wrapped in former General Manager Neil Olshey’s vision for this franchise. Olshey many times was rumored to have refused to trade McCollum under any circumstances, even when there were appealing offers. Who's to say who won this trade and who will end up on the better side of history. Right now, CJ seems to be living the better reality.
Let’s just all agree it was a beautiful night that we won’t soon forget. Trail Blazer fans must now hunker down for an interesting offseason that will hopefully see the fruits of the CJ trade’s spoils.