The Portland Trail Blazers’ sweep out of the NBA Playoffs by the New Orleans Pelicans last year put a spotlight on the team, especially Damian Lillard. Questions about his viability with CJ McCollum in the backcourt burned hotter last summer than previously, with major outlets and stations proposing their own versions of trades to break up the backcourt. In a conversation with Shaun Powell of NBA.com, the franchise guard recounted his feelings after the sweep:
Lillard beat himself up over the exit, saying it took “a few months” before his head stopped spinning.
“I’m not going to lie, I pouted for a while,” Lillard said. “Watched TV and they were talking crap about me left and right.”
Lillard and the Blazers are in a similar standing this season, but he feels different about this team:
“People are sleeping on us,” he said, then paused and added softly, “let them.”
The guard also talked about the fire that drives him to be one of the best players in the league:
“I’m one of the best players in the NBA,” said Lillard, unwilling to limit his status to point guards. “Tell me how I’m not? That’s not pride talking. That’s facts.”
“I have a chip on my shoulder for how I had to get here and where I come from, and also how I’m viewed. Sometimes I’m delusional about it. I might be wrong when I make myself think certain stuff. But it works for me. Every little thing I use as wood on the fire.”
You can read more from Powell’s reflection on Lillard’s time in Portland here.