Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard won the 2013 Skills Challenge at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.
Lillard posted the best time of the night in the opening round, 28.8 seconds, and then defeated Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday in a head-to-head final with a time of 29.8 seconds.
"It felt good," Lillard said in a post-competition interview as he accepted his trophy.
Lillard beat out Holiday, Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight, Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague, Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker.
Here's a transcript of Lillard's post-competition comments.
You're a rookie, but you seem like you never lose your cool. So what makes you that way?
I've played basketball a long time and I grew up in a tough city. I've always been comfortable with myself and confident with myself. So coming into this season I was confident and coming into this competition I was, also. So that's probably where it comes from.
I was honored to win this competition. The bigger thing for me was the fact that I was able to get the scholarship money for him. I come from a tough situation. If it wasn't for sports, I probably wouldn't have been able to attend a college. It means a lot for me to be able to do that for him.
Any strategy to this, practice ahead of time?
I think the biggest think for me was to try not to be too cool and speed through it, but take my time with the passes and shots. And when I'm making a pass, I basically try not to run away before it goes in so I don't waste time. Today was the first time I saw the course.
Did you get to do any preparation? When you found you were going to be in the Skills Challenge, did you try to start throwing a balance through a wagon wheel?
When we got in today I went to the bounce pass and I did it about 50 times in a row. They gave us about ten minutes to go through it and do whatever we wanted to. Five minutes before we left they timed all of us and we got to go through it one time. The first time I went through it, I knew I would get through it pretty smooth to get the pass through.
The second time you went to grab the ball, you almost left without it, were you trying to get there so quick that you almost looked like you had to turnaround for a second to get back onto the course?
No, I thought it was in so I was going on to the next thing. But the most important thing was for me to stay in that moment and try not to get too excited, not worry about going the wrong direction or anything like that. So I just grabbed the ball.
So after the All-Star Weekend what are you guys going to do to make a push for the playoffs?
I think our team needs to play more consistent. Right now we're three games under .500. So we need to bring the same edge and level and intensity to the teams at the same level as us, like we're playing against Miami or Oklahoma City. Once we can play consistent at that same level, I think that's when we make our push.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter