Portland Trail Blazer’s guard CJ McCollum knows that not everybody is comfortable with athletes and coaches in professional sports talking about issues usually reserved for politicians. But he’s happy that the conversations are happening anyway. McCollum joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio and talked about why he thinks it’s important that we address the social issues that took the forefront over the weekend in both the NFL and NBA.

“There’s a lot of different things going on in the world, and it’s important that people understand that you have to talk about things that are uncomfortable,” McCollum said. “Race, inequality, different things that are going on in the world. It may not be comfortable to everyone, but once you experience being pulled over, once you experience certain things growing up in impoverished neighborhoods, your perspective on life changes.

“And not everybody grows up in those situations. And not everybody that’s black is poor or dumb. And not everybody that’s white is racist. And not every police is racist. So it’s just about finding that common ground, finding that balance, and understanding that both sides need to come together.”

McCollum also noticed comments from San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who used his team’s Media Day to condemn President Trump’s recent comments about NFL players protesting, called the United States an embarrassment to the world, as the five-time NBA champion called out white privilege. The comments got the approval of McCollum, who commented publicly on Twitter.

“I think he is very very informed on what’s going on in the world,” McCollum said. “I think as a person who has served in the military, he has a very unique perspective. Obviously he’s coached for a long time, he’s been around a lot of different races, he’s been around a lot of different faces with people from ethnic backgrounds with different religions. But I think he’s very keen on his ideas, and he’s outspoken, and he’s not afraid to be judged by his thoughts. And I think that what he is saying he has a point.”

McCollum said Popovich knows that even if the conversations can be uncomfortable and awkward, people of different races and cultures connecting can be good.

“African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Mexicans, everything needs to come together,” McCollum said. “Talk to police enforcement. Talk to different people out there, so that we can better understand each other.”


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