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How Damian Lillard Uses Boxing to Become a Better Basketball Player

Damian Lillard continues to find ways to produce on the court. His offseason work in the boxing ring may be a key reason why.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has made his mark as one of the NBA’s most respected basketball players since entering the association in 2012-13. As it turns out, he’s been able to use other sports to propel him to that level. ESPN’s Eric Woodyard recently wrote a feature story that highlights how boxing has made the six-time All-Star an even better basketball player.

Many of Lillard’s go-to moves — such as his pull-up jumper from beyond 30-feet — can be attributed to work done in the ring. Lillard says that his rigorous training schedule leads to stronger legs when the season begins.

“I feel like my legs are a lot stronger because I train in the ring so much,” he said. “My legs don’t wear out as fast.

“[In boxing] you’ve got to keep moving. Your arms are up. I feel like I’ve been able to shoot the ball easier from deep probably because my shoulders are more broad now. I’m stronger up top because this is hard to do. It’s hard to keep your hands up, and you feel it. I feel like in small ways like that, it’s probably played a part.”

He also offers a glimpse into Lillard’s regimen, which includes conditioning, strength, and power.

When Lillard is in training mode, he begins work as early as 7 a.m. with lifting and conditioning. Then he slips on the gloves, going through as many as eight to 10 three-minute rounds on the mitts. Lillard focuses on throwing proper jabs, combination punching, operating at different angles and moving his feet. He’s seeing what it feels like to counterpunch, using his hips to punch, snapping and following through on his jabs and transferring power into his shots.

As Lillard points out, the boxing training has helped mentally, too, in building a never-say-die attitude, even when the Blazers fall behind in games. The article also helps showcase Lillard’s upbringing, how prevalent boxing in his household growing up, and his relationship with today’s top boxers. You can read the rest here.