For the first nine seasons of his NBA career, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard operated under the same head coach. Through his upcoming experience with Team USA, he’s said to be excited about learning new perspectives under a coaching staff headed by the likes of Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, NBC Sports Northwest’s Dwight Jaynes reports.
The opportunity gives Lillard the chance to see the game through the view of two coaches who’ve won eight NBA championships over the last 22 seasons. Lillard elaborated on that viewpoint during today’s media pass.
“It’s fun,” Lillard said during a Zoom news conference after Thursday’s USA practice. “Because you just see a different way. “Sometimes a different language, and you know, a different type of energy about him — like, just talking to ‘Pop.’ Talking to Steve Kerr, talking to Jay Wright, you know, everybody.
“They’ve done things at such a high level, for ‘Pop’ and Steve Kerr, specifically, at a level that I’ve been wanting to be on.”
Many of Lillard’s championship pursuits have been stonewalled by Popovich’s Spurs and Kerr’s Warriors. They’ve also built a track record in coaxing the best out of their All-Star point guards. Also among the staff are Lloyd Pierce, assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers and Jay Wright, head coach of the University of Villanova. Lillard says that he’s been listening harder to their advice, in search of finding another level to his game.
“Not that they know something my coaches in the last nine years haven’t known,” Lillard said. “But it’s just when you get there and you have that level of experience, if you have that level of success. It’s, you know, it’s just a little bit different.
“So, I’ve come in here, just listening a little bit harder, having my ears open, and wanting to hear what they have to say and why they do things a certain way.
“And you know, it has to be at that level. It’s a reason why they’ve had so much success.”
Team USA has their first official exhibition on July 10 against Nigeria. You can read the rest of Jaynes’ article at NBC Sports Northwest.