The Trail Blazers might be the NBA’s most disappointing team. They’re 16-22 and out of playoff position thanks to the NBA’s worst defense, though poor injury outcomes have factored.
It just wasn’t well received by C.J. McCollum.
After suffering a challenging, 115-107 loss to Milwaukee, Ezeli, in street clothes, addressed the team in the locker room with a stern speech centered on playing with urgency, sources told ESPN. Then two games later, after a crushing defeat in Memphis, Ezeli once again started giving a team speech, but he was cut short.
McCollum interrupted Ezeli in midsentence and told him that was enough, sources told ESPN. Portland was in the midst of an emotionally draining December, losing 11 of 13 games. Players were desperately pouring out every ounce of effort trying to change the trajectory of the season, and being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably.
There are three players who are natural leaders on an NBA team: the best player, the highest-paid player and the starting point guard. It’s difficult, though far from impossible, for other players to hold weight in the locker room.
Someone not playing has almost no chance – which Ezeli should have realized.
His time with the Warriors provided him valuable insight in how to win, but that wasn’t enough. Players don’t want to hear from a teammate not battling with them, especially a newcomer.
Perhaps, Ezeli had valuable words of wisdom to share, but the frustration of losing made that the wrong time and place. Ezeli not realizing that indicates his understanding of the team’s dynamics was lacking, anyway.