Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Damian Lillard were both selected Thursday as reserves for the 2014 All-Star Game, set for Feb. 16 in New Orleans.
The team held a press conference to honor the selections, which marked the third of Aldridge's career and the first of Lillard's career. Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts flanked Aldridge and Lillard.
Aldridge had the best line of the night when he was asked for the advice he would give Lillard.
"The first time you touch it, shoot it," Aldridge said. "If you pass it, you will not get it back. I made the mistake of passing it, I never saw it again."
Here's a full transcript.
LaMarcus Aldridge: "It's fun, it's exciting. I wouldn't be here without my coaches, Dame, and all my teammates. If we didn't win this year, I definitely wouldn't be looked at as I am this year. I think the guys around me have played so well, and been so unselfish, that I've been able to play to this level that I've been at this year. Every year I make it, it's still fun for me."
No stress this year
Aldridge: "I booked my hotel like two weeks ago. First time ever. I think this team has been great this year. As far as playing at a really high level, guys have been good, that's why I've been good this year."
Damian Lillard: "It means everything to me. It's my first time. I'm excited about it. Once I got the news, I couldn't believe it. It's a dream come true. Like he said, we have to both give credit to our team. Because of our success this season, that's what made it possible for both of us to be here. I couldn't thank them or the coaching staff enough."
Did you feel confident you would make it?
Lillard: "I was confident. I was also worried because you never know. A lot of guys think they're going to be in this game and they end up falling short. It's always a possibility, I woke up confident. Yesterday was kind of like Christmas Eve for me, a little bit, I was nervous. I'm just happy I got the call and I'm excited about the opportunity."
Being in the game with a teammate
Aldridge: "I was there with Brandon [Roy] in that [rookie/]sophomore game, so that was a little bit different. It's big time. Hopefully he can pass me the ball some more. I can get some more shots up. I don't see that happening. It's fun. It shows how good our team has been this year, how great guys have played this year."
First person you called
Lillard: "The first person I called was my dad. He was kind of sweating me about it. "Have you heard anything? Are you in the game?" And I didn't know. As soon as I found out, I wanted to make sure I told him, because he seemed like he was a little more worried about it than I was.
"He was excited. My dad is the type of person who is laid back, you might not even know when he's excited or know when something means a lot to him. When I broke the news to him, he laughed a little bit, I just felt the excitement in the conversation."
Are you the first All-Star from Weber State?
Lillard: "I'm pretty sure I am. I'm pretty sure I am. That shouldn't even be a question."
What does it mean for the team to have two All-Stars?
Neil Olshey: "Players want to play with great players. I think we've seen that over the last five or six years in the NBA. These guys, they work out together in the summer, they have closer relationships, what's important to them is having a chance to win at a high level. Any time guys can join great players, clearly they're going to be more open to that opportunity than maybe being the first person to arrive. We're lucky enough that this organization drafted both of these guys. But in order to attract other free agents, it's clearly a calling card."
Advice for Lillard?
Aldridge: "The first time you touch it, shoot it. If you pass it, you will not get it back. I made the mistake of passing it, I never saw it again.
"Nah, I mean, I really can't tell him about it. I think the whole experience just speaks for itself. When he's there, and he's seeing guys watch play growing up, maybe guys he's taken moves from. When you're in the same locker room and the same court with those guys, it's just that moment, that's everything for you.
Are you a target now?
Lillard: "I think they've been playing hard against me to be honest with you. Of course. I'm sure there are guys out there who feel like they should have been in this game, on both sides, East and West. Every guard that made this game has become a target."
Anyone you're looking forward to playing with?
Lillard: "I'm looking forward to being in that environment, definitely. I don't want to irritate anybody by asking too many questions or nothing like that. I'm looking forward to being in that group, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and even Steph Curry, the player that he's turned into. I'll definitely be asking some questions."
Biggest step you've made since last All-Star Game?
Aldridge: "It's so may things. As far as trying to be a better leader this year, that's been part of our success this year. Trying to be more vocal on the court. Just trying to be better at the things I do. Trying to score better down low, trying to talk to guys, trying to rebound better. I think overall, everything has been better this year."
Work has paid off
Aldridge: "It feels great, but I'm not satisfied. I always want to keep going back, keep getting better. Every season I always come back better because I'm not satisfied. It's definitely good to see your hard work paying off."
You said you wanted to be Rookie of the Year, then an All-Star, what's next?
Lillard: "I'm just trying to stay consistent. I'm just trying to stay consistent, keep improving. Right now, I just want to enjoy this."
A busy weekend with All-Star, Skills Challenge and Rookie Challenge
Lillard: "Once I signed up to be a basketball player and I made it to the NBA, I wanted to be part of this weekend. Whatever comes along with it, I'm all for it."
More pressure on you with two All-Stars?
Terry Stotts: "We're here because of them so, no, I'm really proud of them. How they've played, how they represent themselves and their teammates. This is a good moment for a coach to see his players succeed and get individual honors."
Did you campaign for them?
Stotts: "I don't like getting those calls so I don't even make those calls."
What do you want Damian Lillard to come back from this experience with?
Stotts: "I hope he comes back with some rest. He's going to be a busy man. I want him to enjoy the experience. Hopefully he will be a multiple All-Star and he'll have those opportunities, but your first one is special, and enjoy it, take it all in. Try and get some rest along the way."
Did you track whether you would make it before hand?
Lillard: "No. It wasn't that deep to me. It wasn't honestly. I told myself if it's going to be, it's going to be. Everything I could do, everything that was in my control, I did it. My team won games, I did my job as a point guard. If it wasn't going to happen, then that's just what it was.
"When I had a bad game, I was just concerned if my team won or lost the game. A lot of those times, we did win the game, so that kind of evened it out."
You said you wanted to be Rookie of the Year, then an All-Star, what's next?
Aldridge: "That's the same exact question [as before]."
Lillard: "Like I said, I just want to be consistent and enjoy this one."
Having fun during the All-Star Weekend
Aldridge: "Once guys are there, it's fun, you're in the moment. When you see all of those fans that are happy to be there, all the kids that chase you around, once you're there, you're there. Once you leave you're back in it. Once you're there, it's fun. It's hard not to have fun when you're around guys of that caliber."
What do you get out of All-Star Weekend
Stotts: "A check."
Aldridge: "Other than that, everybody knows that. Somebody wrote an article about that. But other than having coach Terry being my coach, being around [coach Gregg Popovich] was kind of special because he wasn't really like having fun, he was still locked in. Tim [Duncan] was talking to Tony [Parker], he was like, 'let's lock in right now.' He made us do drills like a regular team. To be around Pop, that was fun for me. And to see Tim in person and pick his brain about things he's done, and to see his level of respect for me too, that was nice.
When did your All-Star dream start?
Lillard: "My earliest dreams of the All-Star Game was probably in 2000. All-Star Weekend was in Oakland. My dad took me and my brother to the Dunk Contest, the Three-Point Shootout, all that stuff. That's when I decided that I wanted to be a part of it, that's when I became a big fan of it."
Could you imagine making leap like this in two years since Weber State?
Lillard: "No. Back then I was just worried about making not making the NBA, so I couldn't look this far ahead."
Moving up franchise lists
Aldridge: "I think my body of work has started to put me in the books. Having a good team and good teams over the years has helped with that. I've always felt like my time here could be special. Now, it's starting to show off.
Enjoying this season
Aldridge: "This has been one of my funner seasons because our chemistry is so good, we have guys that play so unselfishly. Whenever you win games, it's fun, so this season has been really fun for me."
When did you think Lillard would be an All-Star?
Aldridge: "I always knew he would be, I didn't know how fast. The last guy that did this that I was around was Brandon. I think they definitely both grew in their games really quick. I think this season, I definitely knew he would make it, how he was playing, how our team was winning, he made those back-to-back game-winners, that was it, after that."
Did you see All-Star flashes in him last year?
Aldridge: "Of course. He definitely took big shots, made big shots, he has that confidence level to be an All-Star and he just makes plays for us."
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