CJ McCollum Accidentally Listed Inactive, Unable to Play in Blazers vs. Clippers

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2016

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) in second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Denver. Portland won 112-106. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

We all make clerical errors. We fill out our emails wrong on a sign-up form, misspell an address when sending our friends party invites, accidentally CC our boss on a profanity-laced tirade, whatever.

But rarely are our mistakes as costly as the one the Portland Trail Blazers made Wednesday. As CSNNW.com's Peter Socotch detailed, the Blazers accidentally left guard C.J. McCollum off the active list for their game against the Los Angeles Clippers, making the third-year guard a healthy scratch. According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, Portland and Los Angeles had a joint call with the NBA, which ruled McCollum could not play.

Had the Blazers attempted to play him, they would have received a technical foul, and he still would have had to remain inactive, as noted by ESPN's Kevin Pelton.

After the Clippers' 109-98 win, Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl reported Clippers coach Doc Rivers attempted to say something to McCollum, "but McCollum just shook his head and walked away."

McCollum and Rivers at least looked like they laughed about it at one point, as Holdahl, shared:

Joe Freeman of the Oregonian noted "League source tells me the NBA gave Clippers coach Doc Rivers the option before tipoff to let CJ McCollum play Wednesday. Rivers said no."

When asked about the error, Rivers said, "It's not on us. It's on them," per Erik Gundersen of The Columbian. Blazers coach Terry Stotts commented on the mistake, per Jason Quick of CSNNW, "I signed the paper without really noticing it. My fault for not looking at it."

Clearly, on the surface it's ridiculous that a simple mistake could put the Blazers at such a competitive disadvantage. McCollum has been their second-best player all season, and this is an easy fix: "We made a mistake. Our bad. Please take mercy on us and allow us to play our starting shooting guard in a game where we were probably going to get killed anyway."

From a macro perspective, it's a situation in which the NBA is smart to stick to the letter of the law. These rules are there to stop teams from putting a player on the inactive list, only to pull him off at the last minute and play him. It's a competition fairness issue. If the NBA were to allow McCollum to play in this situation, it's fair to wonder how many more "accidental" inactives we'd see.

There's little precedent for this situation because it rarely happens, but these types of rules typically ensure no tomfoolery ensues.

It goes to show: Always check your paperwork, kids.


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