After losing four starters this past off-season, the Portland Trail Blazers were looking for help alongside All-Star point guard, Damian Lillard.
Despite adding young pieces via trades and free agency, C.J. McCollum, their 10th pick from 2013, is having a breakout season through 17 games.
After playing limited minutes his first two seasons, McCollum is averaging 20.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists 34.8 minutes.
Following the 108-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, McCollum talked about watching Kobe Bryant since he was a kid and their post-game conversation according to Mike Richman of The Oregonian:
“I just told him that he’s a guy I’ve watched since I was a kid,” McCollum said of the postgame exchange. “He’s a guy I’ve looked up to and modeled my work ethic after. Just understanding his appreciation of the game.”
With McCollum watching the five-time champion since he was a kid, he brought out the mannerisms, approach and mentality:
“I’ve really just studied him since I was younger,” McCollum said. “I’ve watched a lot of film on him. I watch a lot of other guys … but just his mannerisms, his approach, postgame interviews and stuff. Just understanding his mentality. He has a killer mentality and there’s a reason why he’s been successful.”
McCollum was only five years old when Kobe entered the NBA in 1996. For most of these young players who have recently entered the league, they have witnessed his greatness growing up and are looking forward to playing him.
At this stage of his career, Kobe shares he does not have the same legs anymore and it has resulted in career-low shooting percentages. However, there is plenty of respect around the league for what Kobe has accomplished in his future Hall of Fame career.