Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard joined the Jim Rome show on Monday morning. An audio link is here.
Here's a transcript. The interview ended somewhat abruptly when Lillard's fear of statues was brought up.
Loss to Orlando, bouncing back
I think the biggest thing is just moving on. Any time you think about a bad shooting night, any time something didn't go well, it tends to carry over and I might have another night like that because I'm thinking about what happened in Orlando. We play so many games, it's an 82-game season so there's a quick opportunity to come out and have a better shooting night.
NBA schedule compared to college
I think the NBA season is a lot tougher because of how much we travel. We might play a home game and the next day we're in New York and the next day we're somewhere else. The travel and playing against the best players in the world. I'm playing a lot of minutes so it's a lot tougher than college. I think some people underestimate the grind of a college season. Less games but you practice hard every day. Less travel but it's still pretty tough. I think the NBA is a way bigger challenge.
Travel taking a toll
It does. You fly until one in the morning or two in the morning and then you have a game the day that you land. It's tough to get up for it because you really don't have time to recover sometimes. The charter flights are a lot better than getting on a normal flight, we're lucky. People will want pictures and autographs, charter flights make it easier on us but it's still a flight and we still have to get up and play that next day on a back-to-back. It's just tough.
LaMarcus Aldridge called this a make or break trip
Coming in, I knew it was a big trip for us. It could take us in either direction. We could drop under .500 or we could keep our heads above water. I don't think it will break us but I think if we can get these next two wins it will be great momentum for us going into the All-Star break.
It's really big for us. It will be tough because of how well they are playing. If we can get that one that would put us at 2-3 on this trip, going into New Orleans, which I think is a winnable game. Every game is, but that's a very winnable game. If we could finish this road trip out .500, 3-3, we would be a game above .500, we'd be sitting pretty.
What were you thinking when buried on the bench at a private high school
I was getting nervous because I was a really big fan of college basketball, I wanted to play in the NBA, that was everybody's dream. I started to see it slip away from me because I wasn't getting into the game at all. Sometimes I would play two or three minutes or other times I wouldn't see the floor. It was tough for me, because everywhere I had been, I wasn't always the best player, but I played.
My parents, here they are paying money they don't have for me to go to school and I'm not getting the opportunity to play. It put me in a tough spot. I just knew that I wouldn't let myself back down to that challenge. I left the school, went back to a public school and I found my place.
Why were you under the radar after success at Oakland High?
I just think because of the area I was in, it's not a big time area with a lot of top prospects. I didn't play on a well known AAU team. I didn't get the recognition, but it didn't bother me. All I wanted to do was get a scholarship. I got some schools to recruit me, a couple of schools offered me. I just figured whichever school it was, I was going to make the most of the opportunity. I was just blessed to get a scholarship to Weber State. I think my time there was well spent. They helped develop me as a person and a player. I was able to get drafted.
Transition from Oakland to Ogden
The type of person I am, Ogden really fit me. It was a laid back city, really good people. I met a lot of friends there. I was comfortable as soon as I got there. I had really good relationships with my coaches. It was a lot slower than I was used to but it fit my style and personality. I enjoyed my time there.
Broke your foot
For about a week, I pouted. I was feeling sorry for myself because I had never had a real serious injury. At this time I was thinking about the NBA, I was finally performing and the scouts are noticing, and you break your foot. I pouted for a little bit and then after a week or a week and a half I met with my coaches and we developed a plan for what I could do to get better while I was hurt.
I started doing ball-handling work in a chair, shot from a chair, lifting weights six days a week, watched film of every game I had played at Weber State. I came up with a list of things I needed to do better based off of what I saw and my coach did the same thing. The summer when I was recovering, we broke it all down, worked on those things and I got better at them.
Being afraid of historic statues
I was at Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas. I'm walking in the wax museum seeing all the celebrities and I happened to walk into the last room and there's the dead presidents. Martin Luther King. Really huge icons. The Jesus statues and all that kind of gave me shivers. When I saw those people and the music that was playing, it just didn't sit right with me. When I see statues, it kind of bothers me.
It's kind of a freaky place
Right. It's tough.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter