Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard tried his best to drag his team past the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. He posted a 55-point total in Game 5 of the series, averaging 34 points and 10 assists over six games in defeat. In post-game interviews after the concluding loss of the season, Lillard expressed resignation and frustration over his team’s fate.
Lillard’s comments were captured by multiple media sources, including Royce Young of ESPN.
On potential changes, Lillard had this to offer:
“I mean, we didn’t win a championship, so obviously where we are now isn’t good enough,” Damian Lillard said. “I don’t know what a shakeup looks like or what changes will be made or could be made, but obviously as is, it wasn’t good enough. We came up short against a team without their starting point guard and shooting guard (Will Barton and Jamal Murray). ... Obviously, where we are isn’t good enough to win a championship if it’s not good enough to get out of a first-round series with two of their best three or four players not on the floor.”
He also gave credit to the Nuggets before saying that own team needed to rethink:
“We didn’t make excuses and we still don’t make excuses. Disappointing ending, this isn’t what we wanted, but we don’t hang our heads. Just came up short,” Lillard said. “We didn’t do what was necessary to win a series and gotta keep fighting, keep working and keep coming back to battle. Regardless of how it ended, we’re always going to have our heads held high, have class and go about it like real warriors. We lost, they were the better team, congratulations to them. It’s back to the drawing board for us.”
That same night, Lillard posted a revealing quote on Instagram asking, “How long” a person should wait before opportunity met preparation, a lyric from rap legend Nipsey Hussle.
Lillard is under contract with the Blazers through the 2023-24 season with a $48.8 million player option in 2024-25.