Trail Blazers star combo guard CJ McCollum will not be present on the court in Wednesday’s season opener at Phoenix.
Over the weekend, McCollum was suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation in last week’s preseason matchup with the Suns, which coincidentally also occurred in Phoenix. While McCollum acknowledged he broke the rules, he admitted he felt the punishment was harsh, as told by trailblazers.com’s Casey Holdahl:
“They could have suspended me for the preseason game, they could have fined me more money and allowed me to play in a regular season game,” said McCollum. “It’s the intent and it’s usually up to them, it’s to their discretion, so they had a choice. They didn’t have to suspend me.”
On Monday’s edition of ESPN’s ‘The Jump,’ host Rachel Nichols came to McCollum’s defense. Respecting the reasoning for the rule after a late 1990s in-game brawl between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, Nichols cited more recent examples of players leaving the bench area that resulted in no punishment from the NBA:
“CJ is right. The NBA could’ve taken a lot of other routes here, and it is time to formalize that fact by maybe actually building in some different levels of punishment to this rule. Sometimes a few steps are the beginning of something big… Sometimes they’re just a few steps. We need ajudication that understands the difference.”
Hear Nichols’ full reaction as well as footage of McCollum’s eight costly steps below.