Damian Lillard is the unquestioned leader of the Portland Trail Blazers, widely considered one of the best franchise-defining stars across the NBA. His poise, compassion, and charismatic style have drawn praise from peers and executives as much as his talent.
This week Maria Taylor of ESPN sat down with Lillard for a video interview discussing his approach to a tough season, his personal view of leadership, and his fondness for teammates.
The topics ranged widely. Here are some transcript excerpts.
On his huge scoring streak:
Basically we got to the point in the locker room and in the tunnel leading out to the floor, we talked about, “Let’s make the playoffs and let’s make the push start tonight.” My mentality was just to really try to impose my will on the game.
On the disappointing season so far:
I feel like we’re in the middle of a test. We went into the summer planning on doing our work so we can take that next step this season. Then we come back, we got injuries, a lot of adversity a lot of stuff hitting our team. So I think we’re in the middle of a test, thinking it’s going to be one way and it’s the total opposite. We’re just continuing to fight through it.
On his personal approach:
Being the star of the team, everybody on the outside likes to say, “Dame needs to do this for Dame. He’s carrying the team.” People like to say things like that. I realize it’s not all about me, and I do things wrong too. There was a point in the season when we were losing and losing and I was getting frustrated. The coaches would be like, “Dame, fix your body language. You’re better than that. Dame, just keep being patient.” They had my back and they were willing to tell me what I needed to hear and not just be like, “It’s alright. You’re right.” Sometimes I need somebody to get on my case too.
The interview has far more topics and thoughts from Dame. It’s worth checking out if you want to feel good about Portland’s All-Star (as if you didn’t already).