As part of the exciting young Trail Blazers’ duo that’s kept the team afloat, CJ McCollum’s basketball prowess has never been doubted. When he isn’t helping Damian Lillard secure wins for Portland, McCollum is a man of many hobbies. One particular interest, wine, got McCollum involved in something far different than what we see him do on TV.
CJ McCollum takes the court
The 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft out of Lehigh, McCollum, showed a lot of promise in high school. Like Lillard, however, his potential flew under the radar. Entering the league in 2014, McCollum wasn’t an immediate success. However, through hard work and dedication, the Blazers’ guard went from five to seven points per game in his first two years to a scoring machine.
For McCollum, 2015-16 was a breakout year, and the Blazers were all the better for it. While the team was, undoubtedly, Lillard’s, McCollum provided a perfect sidekick for the Trail Blazers’ superstar. He put up nearly 21 points per game during his third year to go along with four assists, three rebounds, and a steal. McCollum didn’t need to dominate the ball to take over, and that made him scarier for defenses around the league.
Since his breakout season, McCollum has been a source of consistency across the board. His scoring has remained in the same field, and while his free throws have been a frustratingly inconsistent aspect of his game, he makes up for it with his presence on both sides of the basketball court. Last year, when the Blazers took the west by storm and made it to the conference Finals, McCollum was a major key to the team’s success.
The Blazers are in the midst of a final push to make this year’s playoffs, but regardless of what happens, McCollum’s life off the court may be just as exciting as life on it.
McCollum takes his interests elsewhere
McCollum doesn’t want to be defined solely by his accomplishments as a basketball player details The Undefeated. He has outspokenly supported several interests away from the court, from investment opportunities to philanthropic work aimed at underprivileged children. A journalism student during his days at Lehigh, McCollum started a Dream Center where interested students could get real-world training covering sports and current events.
Furthermore, McCollum is heavily involved with a variety of social causes and was one of the most outspoken NBA voices amidst recent civil unrest. Not everything he does has to be about basketball or social change, however, and McCollum helps unwind from both with a glass of wine like anyone else. His interest in wine, however, goes further than mere enjoyment.
McCollum tastes success with wine
When it comes to wine and basketball, a blend of two worlds seemingly far away has come closer in recent years. Everyone from Carmelo Anthony to LeBron James love the occasional glass. Dwyane Wade and Gregg Popovich have even gone a step further by opening their small wineries.
McCollum credits the NBA draft with changing his life on the court, as well as on it, reports Wine Spectator. Now, he reportedly has a 600-bottle wine cellar that he keeps filled to the brim. McCollum regularly takes to his podcast to say what’s in his glass and makes his recommendations.
“I’ve been reorganizing my cellar, figuring out what I should add to it,” McCollum said, according to ESPN. “I recently made a trip to Adelsheim and Beaux Frères, to learn more about their wines and their history … Adelsheim has some really good Pinot Noir and blanc de blancs … I recommend the Chehalem Mountain Breaking Ground Pinot Noir, for about $45 — you can’t go wrong: It’s high acidity, with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry flavors.”
Going even further, McCollum worked with Adelsheim winemakers to make his own flavor, meticulously taste-testing, and help create his signature blend. McCollum may be in Orlando trying to save his basketball team’s season, but it’s clear that the man, who is not yet 30, has interests far beyond the basketball court and into another world altogether.