Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was officially named 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote on Wednesday. He gave a speech, along with Blazers GM Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts, at a Rose Garden press conference in front of a crowd of hundreds that included team employees, media members, friends and family, and employees of Adidas and his agency.
Text of the major speeches at the press conference can be found here.
The following is a transcript of Lillard's general question-and-answer session with media members. Lillard would go on to handle a variety of interviews for more than an hour after the main portion of the ceremony was completed.
I think the first thing I'm going to do is tighten up everything I do now. I want to bring my percentages up as a shooter, tighten up my handle, be a better ball-handler, and a big part of my growth is watching film, looking back on this season and seeing where I can improve. [Watch] lot of the times I made mistakes, just try to get better. Add a middle game, floaters, different solutions in the paint instead of always challenging the bigs, getting in there looking for contact.
What does it mean to win this award unanimously?
It means a lot because coming in, nobody wanted to give me this award. It wasn't like coming out people were saying he's going to be Rookie of the Year. I had to prove it up. I feel like my body of work this season is what led to it. I take a lot of pride in performing every night, playing through little nagging injuries, I feel like stuff like that is what made it unanimous. All the little stuff that I put into it.
A moment during the season where you felt you wrapped up the award?
Honestly, I didn't even think about it being wrapped up. People would say it on Twitter. Some people I know would say that I would be Rookie of the Year. I didn't want to let myself believe it, to be honest with you. I just wanted to finish the season strong because I've always been a guy that stays in the moment. I've never looked ahead or gotten ahead of myself and I didn't want to fall into that now. I kind of knew I was ahead, I figured that I was ahead, but I'm not going to say that I thought I had it locked up.
Where does this rank in your achievements?
I think it's just part of the journey. It was a lot of things that I did this year, it all came together to make this possible. It's pretty high up there but there's a lot of things that go into it.
Any point where you thought you had to make an adjustment, like the rookie wall?
Yeah, there was. I always said that the rookie wall is more mental than anything. I've got too much pride to fall into what everybody was saying. Once everybody said I might be hitting the rookie wall, I had too much pride, I might go to sleep early, hoping I get up the next day feeling a lot better so I can go out there and prove them wrong.
The biggest thing to me was getting used to the attention. The first couple of games I was coming off pick-and-rolls and shooting wide open jumpers, everything was coming a lot easier, and I thought it was going to stay that way. I remember our first long road trip and it was seven games, we were on the road for two weeks, it seemed like I was getting tired way too fast. At the beginning of the game, two minutes in, I would be winded. I didn't realize I was working harder, every little thing.
Teams started to trap me, I figured out they had gotten on to it, they watched film, started to prepare for me and I needed to watch film and prepare for them. Everything got harder.
How did you find out you won the award and who did you tell after you found out?
The first person i heard from was [Blazers GM] Neil [Olshey]. He called me, I think it was yesterday. It might have been yesterday. Neil told me. He told me yesterday. I was excited. I think I was in the kitchen with my mom, I think my cousin was in there. They told me, 'Don't tell nobody.' They told me not to say nothing but I went in the kitchen and told her, 'I just won.'
It was a normal thing to be honest with you. That's why I stay how I am, nobody started screaming or yelling, no celebrating or nothing. It was just like, 'Congratulations, good job,' and my mom went back to the refrigerator. Everything was really normal.
How do you top this award?
I think the biggest thing I can do for myself is let it go. When you get awards like this, it's acknowledging what I did in the past. My first season is over with. The best thing I can do for myself is take it in today and tomorrow I've got to let it go. There's a whole career in front of me and I want more than just the Rookie of the Year award. This award is only out of so many people. I want to do a lot more, win a championship, I want to be an All-Star, I want to be an MVP in this league. People might say I'm crazy again but I think I can do it.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter