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Lillard Surmounts Struggles Thanks To Trainer Phil Beckner, Accountability

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Even Damian Lillard falls short sometimes, but when he does, Beckner reminds him to look in the mirror.

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Everyone noticed that Damian Lillard was struggling in April, as he was not scoring at the usual clip the point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers enjoys. And thanks to Phil Beckner, his longtime trainer and former assistant coach at Weber State, Lillard knew it and bounced back, reports Jason Quick of the Athletic.

“He was sending me (film clips) game after game, and each game was labeled NGE,” Lillard said. “Not good enough … not good enough … not good enough.”

Said Beckner: “He’s strong enough and secure enough to let me challenge him.”

Lillard knew he had to be accountable.

“The only thing I can do is look at the mirror myself and evaluate myself,” Lillard said on April 25. “I’m just not playing well enough … if we are going to be better, I know our team success is parallel to me being better.”

Beckner says his willingness to be held to account is what makes Lillard great.

“Part of his greatness as a player is putting truth-tellers around him, and allowing them to hold him accountable,” Beckner said. “He doesn’t fear the truth or confrontation.”

Lillard says that despite the criticism, he doesn’t get discouraged.

“Just staying true to what makes me successful, I come out of it every time,” Lillard said. “I don’t know when that happens – sometimes it gets worse before it turns around – and you gotta be careful to not be discouraged when you doing all the right things and it’s not turning around, because you never know when your moment is going to come.”

Beckner says Lillard’s ownership of his play is what makes him powerful.

“It’s pretty crazy if you think about it: he’s a top-five player in the world and he is letting his trainer criticize, critique and challenge him, while not making one excuse,” Beckner said. “To tell him he’s NGE and he needs to do better and he just takes ownership and responds ‘You’re right … and I will.’

“That’s what makes him elite,” Beckner said. “That’s what makes him one of the best of the best.”

You can read the entire piece here (subscription required).