Portland Trail Blazers’ star point guard Damian Lillard recently sat down with Dan Roberts of Yahoo! Finance to discuss his investment in PlayersTV, a digital media platform that will stream directly to Samsung television sets, among other outlets. Lillard joins teammates CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony in his investment, and Roberts asked what joining the platform meant for Lillard personally.
We all have our unique stories and our unique interests. Day to day lives and things like that. Our things that we love to do away from what we’re known for. And it’s unique content to each person. We all have our own story to tell, our own things to share.
And there’s platforms for us to exercise that. I get to share that with the world and with fans and things like that. But there’s not a lot of platforms where you can control that content, where you can use your creativity and share your story and have control of that content. So in a situation like this, where I’m able to do that, that’s really important. Especially while we’re in this time of ownership and control, and you’re doing things yourself and pushing that line. And also, being an equity partner, it just presented a great opportunity for me.
Lillard will be the focus of a series on the platform called “Sessions,” which will be a documentary of Lillard’s career. For Lillard, taking that on means he can control the narratives others try to create about his work.
Yeah. Well, I mean, why wouldn’t you want to be the source? I think a lot of times narratives get controlled, people get put in a box, people get labeled. And I think it’s much easier to do that when you don’t have access to the actual source. You’re not seeing the character that’s being talked about on TV and being talked about on the internet.
And I think stuff like this allows you to share your own. Even if you want to create content where you just share your day to day, or you respond to certain things that happen in the public eye. It gives you the opportunity to be the source. Share your own message, share your side.
Lillard also reflected on his involvement with social justice, noting his own unpleasant experiences with police.
I’ve had my own personal experiences where I was racially profiled by cops. I’ve been pulled over, I’ve been at gunpoint. I’ve had all these experiences as a kid. So I think what you saw with the bubble was players having that thought of we’ve experienced this. This is where we come from. And it’s not right for us to just go play basketball and leave it up to everybody else. We got to be active participants. We got to make a stand and put as much attention on this as we possibly can.
And I thought we did that. Obviously, that’s just a small piece to what needs to be done. And you got to move forward on to the next thing. How do we help now? But it was disturbing, especially as a Black man. You have to fight so hard just for equality. You’re not asking for more. Its just equality. Give me a fair shot, treat me fairly. You know what I’m saying? Value my life the same.
Lillard stated that athletes now are more comfortable speaking out, as the repercussions of doing so have lessened, and the league is supportive of racial and social justice.
I think part of it is because of social changes. The consequences of us speaking out on it aren’t the same. In the past, I feel like it would have been much more harsh repercussions for speaking out and putting yourself under a microscope and putting yourself in that position. There might be a black eye on whatever league you represent or whatever team you represent. And they might say, don’t do this or don’t do that, and try to control it.
But I think now, because of the social change that we’ve had over the years, and even in the NBA, it’s like how supportive they have been of the players. I think that’s only going to cause the players to feel more confident and comfortable with coming forward, especially when you look at the past, you might look like people— we make a lot more money now than athletes made years back.
So for them it was like, I can’t afford to get fined and get suspended without pay and get whatever— kicked out of the league or anything like that. It was a tough decision to make.
Whereas, now it’s like, if we speak out and something goes wrong or they try to hold us accountable on a level where it could mess up our family situation or take away a contract or something, it would be World War III. So I think teams and leagues have to be careful with that, and they have to respect the opinions of the athletes more now, as opposed to the way it was back then.
You can read the entire interview here.