Portland’s CJ McCollum is a silent assassin on the court and a blooming journalist off of it The Trail Blazers guard is changing the game for high school journalists with his organization CJ’s Press Pass

Originally posted at the undefeated https://theundefeated.com/features/nba-portland-trail-blazer-cj-mccollum-journalist/

The day after Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum sank the game-winning floater with 3.9 seconds left against the Dallas Mavericks, he met with 20 students from Madison High School’s journalism club. For the second year, he’s encouraging Portland-area students to pursue a career in journalism through his student mentoring program, CJ’s Press Pass.

McCollum is a silent assassin on the court, and off the court he’s a blooming journalist, radio personality and philanthropist. As he continues his effort to invest in the local community, he will host Journalism Night on Feb. 13 during the Blazers’ home game against the Atlanta Hawks, where the students will receive media credentials and attend a postgame news conference through CJ’s Press Pass.

The program provides aspiring journalists the opportunity to attend events with McCollum, receive personalized mentorship from members of the media and to have their work published. This year, CJ’s Press Pass is partnering with Prep2Prep, a Bay Area organization that gives students the opportunity to cover local high school sporting events and receive mentorship.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” McCollum said. “I think it’s growing every year. More kids and more people are becoming interested in it. I think it’s something that is beneficial to the kids and it gives them an outlet. It gives them a chance to learn exactly what the journalism world entails. Not just behind the camera, but behind the scenes and learn how games are ran, how TV shows are ran, how everything is put together. Looking forward to expanding that as well.”

The Blazers star earned a degree in journalism from Lehigh University in 2013. He started off in the business school at Lehigh. About two weeks into it, he realized it wasn’t for him.

“I was looking to make a change and based on some of the classes I was taking, I enjoyed writing the papers,” McCollum said. “And I enjoyed talking. So I switched over to the journalism school and I learned more about journalism and how I could use it after basketball.”

He was an assistant editor for the school newspaper for three years and now that he’s in NBA, he hosts two radio shows: Playlist, a two-hour show on iHeartRadio that airs on Friday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight, and a weekly sports talk morning show on 620 Rip City Radio.

For McCollum, starting CJ’s Press Pass was a no-brainer.

“Basically, I sat down and talked to my agency about just different ways I could help the community and help other students who are in a position where they want to become journalists or sports broadcasters,” McCollum said. “We’re looking forward to some of the changes and advancements we’ve made with it. Just trying to give them as many opportunities as possible to learn more about the career and to give them real-life, real-time journalism experience from mentors.”

The students will produce a column, video or podcast. Local journalists will be on hand for an exclusive Q&A session. The assignments will be submitted to McCollum and the student with the best piece will be recognized on March 24, when the students visit the iHeartRadio station to watch McCollum tape one of his shows.

As a radio personality, McCollum said, he enjoys talking sports and music.

“I like conversing about both of them. I kind of combined them. We just got hot topics around the league, around other sports. Obviously, the presidential nomination is there and what’s going on with President Trump is very interesting — a good topic to discuss. And then music is a way of expression. It’s kind of a way of life for not only athletes, but for all people. It’s always fun to have different playlists. Put those together and always have a old-school cut of the week, where I play some Marvin Gaye or Gap Band or Temptations or some Isley Brothers. Whatever I’m in the mood for.”

McCollum said the best piece of advice he’s ever received is “to understand that with success comes greater responsibilities, so spend your time wisely. And understand where you came from and what you come from. So that’s what I always try to do. Understanding that, it comes with a lot.”

The best advice he gives to student journalists in his program is not to be afraid to go against the norm.

“Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. I told them a lot of cool kids I grew up with aren’t cool anymore,” he said. “So don’t be afraid to go right when everybody’s going left. And that it’s OK to do your homework and be interested in school and to have goals and priorities outside of sports.”

McCollum also partnered with the Boys & Girls Club to launch the first CJ McCollum Dream Center.

CJ at the opening of the CJ McCollum Dream Center inside the Blazers Boys & Girls Club on November 7, 2016.

C.J. McCollum at the opening of the CJ McCollum Dream Center inside the Blazers Boys & Girls Club on Nov. 7, 2016.

Bruce Ely / Trail Blazers

“It’s a space I renovated with the Boys & Girls Club along with many of my current partners. I renovated the entire room, the floors, furniture, painted the walls, put pictures on the walls. And we provided over 200 culturally relevant books,” he said. “Provided computers, headphones, computer games, databases and code for the computers, and we’re bringing in guest speakers periodically throughout the year to educate the kids on different careers that are available to them. Basically, we just created a safe space for the children to be innovative and continue to want to grow, and learn and prosper.”

McCollum said it’s the first Dream Center of many, as he aspires to open two more.

“I want to have my second one in the works in March or April or May sometime,” he said. “We’ll end up launching that. So I’m looking forward to that, to continue to go to CJ McCollum Dream Center throughout Oregon and the rest of the United States.”

Nike launches ‘EQUALITY’ campaign with film to air during the 59th Annual Grammy Awards

“Is this the land history promised?”

That’s the question Michael B. Jordan asks in the new short film EQUALITY, launching Nike’s new campaign of the same name, the goal of which is to encourage “people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field,” the company says. Back in January, to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Nike announced partnerships with two community organizations, PeacePlayers International and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

Now, Nike is coming into your living room with its message. The film is set to air during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards and again during NBA All-Star Weekend. Nike brought the stars out to help push the message, too. As far as athletes go, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, Gabby Douglas and Victor Cruz all make appearances. On the nonsports entertainment side, Alicia Keys appears in addition to Jordan. Directed by Melina Matsoukas, who’s won a Grammy for her work on Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video, the 90-second black-and-white treatment sends an upfront message about changing impressions regarding the concept of boundaries.

“Here within these lines, on this concrete court. This patch of turf. Here, you’re defined by your actions. Not your looks or beliefs,” Jordan continues. “Equality should have no boundaries. The bonds we find here should run past these lines. Opportunity should not discriminate. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. Worth should outshine color.”

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Courtesy of Nike.

As the scenes continue and overhead drone shots of urban playing spaces take up the frame, the unforgettable sound of a spray paint can interjects. Using a street art metaphor to make a point about in-your-face activism is not only effective, but for many who’ll likely see this ad, perhaps familiar.

The EQUALITY initiative’s social media and clothing efforts are also a big part of this push. Hashtags and T-shirts make the world go ’round these days, and Nike certainly has plenty to offer as part of its “unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Needless to say, the tees fit right in thematically with the rest of their annual Black History Month collection.

On this day in Black History: The NAACP is born, so is Bill Russell and we get a Negro national anthem Black History Month The Undefeated Edition Feb. 12

 

1900 – Negro national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” performed
To celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, James Weldon Johnson wrote the poem Lift Every Voice and Sing, which was turned into a song that was first performed by a group of 500 students in Jacksonville, Florida. It was later adopted by the NAACP as its official song.

1909 – NAACP founded
Founded in 1909 in New York City by a group of black and white citizens committed to social justice, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is one of the nation’s largest civil rights organization. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes.

1934 – Happy birthday, Bill Russell
William Felton “Bill” Russell is considered the greatest of all time in the NBA. He was player-coach of the Boston Celtics in 1968 and 1969. Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana. The five-time MVP holds more championship rings than other player. His Celtics won 11 NBA championships and went to 12 finals during his 13 seasons. From 1959-1966, they won eight straight.

1956 – Happy birthday, Arsenio Hall
Hall was the first black late-night talk show host. The Arsenio Hall Show ran from 1989-1994.