Blazer Banter

C.J. McCollum interviews NBA executive for NBA.com

C.J. McCollum was the Sports Editor of his college newspaper at Lehigh University and majored in Journalism while there, so he’s obviously got some writing chops. He’s written previously for Sports Illustrated but has now, as the cool kids say these days, taken his talents to NBA.com.

In the first edition of his “Rookie Diary,” McCollum interviewed former player, coach, general manager and current NBA executive Rod Thorn.

They talked about Michael Jordan’s foot injury early in his career, similar to what McCollum is experiencing now as well as Thorn’s role with the NBA and his time with Jason Kidd in New Jersey and how he will do as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

CM: Rumor has it that you played a role in drafting Michael Jordan. When you saw him playing at North Carolina, did you think he was going to become one of the best players of all time? What did you think his ceiling or basement was, and did he exceed your expectations for him?

RT: You know something, when we drafted Michael, my feeling was that we had a need for a lot of different things, but we definitely needed a wing player. I thought Michael would be a very good player. I wish I were prescient enough to even consider that he might turn out to be what he was, but the reality is, I had no idea he was going to turn out to be what he turned out to be. I was very hopeful that he’d be a very good player, and be an All-Star type of player one day. To be arguably the greatest player ever, certainly one of the greatest players ever, I had no idea of that.

CM: I had to ask that. He broke his foot his second year, I broke my foot in the first year, no one remembers that!

On Kidd:

CM: We’ve got it good! What type of success do you think Jason Kidd will have? A lot of people have said he was a great leader and motivator as a player, so what do you think about him and the Brooklyn Nets this year?

RT:  I think Jason is as smart as any player I’ve ever been around as far as understanding the game and as far as understanding what you need to do to win. That’s a plus. I think Jason gets instant respect because of who he is and he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He also has good players on his team, and he’s got veteran players. He is going to be a terrific coach, they are going to have a really good team. You are going to go through times that are difficult and things aren’t going that well. Everybody has to learn how to do that, particularly if you’re a first time coach, but I see nothing but really good things for him. He’s a terrific guy, knows the game, and he’s going to do great.

CM: I agree. I think he is going to do tremendous things for that team.

RT: When we got him in New Jersey, we had won 26 games. The year we got him, it went up to 52, and we won the Eastern Conference and played in The Finals. We were a bad defensive team, we were a bad rebounding team, we had bad chemistry, and he helped us in all those areas. His ability to pass and do team type things – he was just unbelievable. A great player.

Soon enough, he’ll be after our jobs.

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