Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard joined Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey on Monday's edition of Blazers Courtside for an interview. Video of the interview will be posted here.
Here's a transcript.
You said your family had a subdued reaction to Rookie of the Year announcement
It was. It's been like that my whole life. Even when I was getting Rookie of the Month, getting mentioned with the type of names like Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson and guys like that, it's been the same thing all year. Once I got Rookie of the Year, it was the same. It's stuff like that that makes me want more all the time.
What will it take to get to All-Star level?
It's definitely some tough competition. I have to beat some guys out. A lot of it depends on the success of my team. I think I'm going to improve in a lot of areas this summer. Once I do, I think I'll average more assists, I'll be making more plays, I may score a few more points, hopefully I do. I think my game will raise a level and hopefully that will help my team win more games and that will contribute to helping me be an All-Star and be a top point guard in the league.
Who you rooting for or watching during the playoffs?
More than anything else, I've been watching the game. I see the plays that they run, the action, the coaches calling out stuff. I see what it means now, I see the game a lot different. I'm a huge LeBron fan and I'm a huge hometown guy so I wish the best for the Warriors since I can't be in the playoffs.
What's wish list item for you after your first season?
I haven't set one thing that I want to do. I'm a homebody, I'm a fan of hanging out, being in my natural habitat, and that's my home. Have my family around, being around the people who I spend so much time away from during the season. That's what I value most. There's nothing that my money could affect, or if I could go on vacation or something like that. There's nothing like that.
What do you like to do outside of basketball?
I like to rollerskate. I catch movies. I like to bowl, read books, a little bit of freestyling, a little bit of rap, mess around a little bit. [i rollerskate] at a rink. They don't have to worry about me falling. I can skate. I tweeted it out for a lot of people to come out [to Oaks Park] and come skate. A lot of people came out to skate, it was cool. Rollerskating is one of my things, man.
What's your bowling average?
That's a good question. I usually get around 110.
Will LeBron James be the Greatest of All Time?
That's tough for me. I love Michael Jordan, man. Growing up that's who we always tried to shoot free throws like Jordan, do dunks, stick your tongue out like Jordan. Just because I have so much respect for Michael Jordan, I would hate for somebody to say that. I hate when people say stuff about Kobe [Bryant] and Michael Jordan, even if Kobe might be close to him, I just hate the thought of it, because that's Jordan.
I think LeBron has the best chance because of how young he is and all he's done. If he keeps on the pace he's on now, I wouldn't be surprised if he did it. I think the championships would justify it more than anything. That's the one knock people bring up, he has one ring, Michael has six. If he has the same amount of rings as Michael Jordan and his numbers are ridiculous, what can you say?
Ever have a moment or opponent that froze you?
The way my mind was, going into the season, I made myself not even care. I didn't want to care who I was on the floor with, Kobe, LeBron, [Kevin] Durant, when I'm on the floor with them, their presence makes me feel like I need to be at my best. The last home game against the Lakers, me and Kobe started going back and forth, I scored on him two times, and then one time he came down and missed a shot. The next time I scored, I remember him coming down, posting me up real physical, throwing his elbows around. In my head, I thought for a second, 'I'm really going back and forth with Kobe right now.' It was unreal.
Kobe Bryant playing through Achilles injury to shoot free throws
That's typical Kobe stuff right there. That's who he is. You see him time and time again pulling through for his team in the fourth quarter, at the end of games, taking criticism, beating all the criticism that he receives. He ends up on top. Even when he was down, tore his Achilles, he was obviously in pain, he still went out there and made those two free throws. A lot of guys who do that get carried off and they stand on the ground, it's painful. He walked off on his own power and walked back on the court under his own power, made the two free throws and then walked off. That was typical Kobe, I wasn't surprised by it but it was impressive.
Will you travel to Summer League to watch teammates?
I'm staying in Portland. I'm always around. I'm in public all the time. As far as Summer League, I'll be there. I enjoy stuff like that, seeing the players that got drafted, the players who went undrafted, I like seeing them all play. I like watching it, seeing people's progress, they are going through the stages i went through.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter