Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard addressed the media after competing in three All-Star Saturday night events at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday night.
Lillard teamed with Utah Jazz rookie guard Trey Burke to win the 2014 Skills Challenge but then was eliminated in the first round of the Three-Point Contest and was eliminated in his first "battle" during the Slam Dunk Contest. Lillard's team also won in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night. Last year, Lillard won the 2013 Skills Challenge in Houston.
Here's a transcript of Lillard's statements during a question and answer session with the media conducted once all of the night's events were complete.
How did it feel to defend Skills Challenge title?
It was exciting for me all day, but to be able to do it again and be the Skills champ again along with Trey, it was a great feeling. But the bigger thing was that we could help her out [referring to a scholarship recipient]. I remember last year being able to do it for another kid and how I felt about that. So going into it I took a lot of pride in being able to do it for her, because I told her I would.
Who keeps the trophy?
Since I already got one, I guess I have to -- I guess I let [Burke] keep it. If we can't decide, then maybe she [the scholarship recipient] should keep it.
You've won two out of four events. Are you happy?
I was happy just to be invited to all of them and to be able to compete in them. And I wanted to win at least one. And I won the first one, and then I thought that there would be some momentum to continue to try and win all three of them. But I fell short in the Three-Point Contest and, as you all saw in the Dunk Contest, they kind of just outclassed us. So I'm just happy that I was able to compete in all of them.
Do you have energy for the All-Star Game on Sunday?
Definitely. That's the ultimate goal, to become an All-Star when you come into the NBA and win championships, but being able to play in that big game is big to me and I'm excited about it.
Thoughts on your dunks and the new Dunk Contest format?
I actually liked the new format. I think it creates more excitement and brings a little bit of creativity to it instead of a guy being out there and having all the pressure on him to perform by himself.
I thought my dunks were good. I think that we came out rusty to start. We missed a few dunks, we didn't execute how we did in practice. We just stuck with it. I think we kind of freestyled it a little bit towards the end just because what we went over didn't work right away. But those [Eastern Conference] guys, they came out ready and they put down some nice dunks.
Why did you put the money ball rack where you did during the Three-Point Contest?
I decided to put it on the left wing because that's just the spot I'm most comfortable shooting from. I kept telling myself I need to make at least four out of five of them, and I think I made three or four, and it came down to the last shot, the one that I missed. That could have put me in the final but I missed it.
After the interview, rapper and "mogul" Sean "Diddy" Combs came down the hall with his security team and saw Lillard and Burke with the trophy. Combs grabbed the trophy from Burke as if he was going to steal it before pausing to pose for a picture with him. As cameras flashed, Combs quipped: "I don't even know what this is for."
Diddy grabs the Skills challenge trophy and poses with Trey Burke, then quips: "I don't even know what this is for." pic.twitter.com/cBClmSy8lz— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 16, 2014
More All-Star Weekend notes and quotes can be found right here.
I posted dunk-by-dunk Slam Dunk Contest grades right here if you're interested.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter