In an interview today at Portland Trail Blazers Media Day 2021, point guard Damian Lillard emphasized his faith in the franchise after a controversial offseason of trade speculation.
Despite not making a splashy move this summer after Lillard publicly called for improvement to the roster at the end of last season, Lillard said he was confident the team made moves that put them in a better position and matched his desire to win a title.
It’s one thing to go out looking for it and make it happen, obviously you need a partner, it takes two. But you also don’t want to go out there and just do anything. What we’ve established so much as a team and as an organization, we don’t just want to go do something just to say ‘I made a change.’ You want it to be in line with something that could actually make us better and something that can send us to the level we’re trying to get to.
We’ve done some things that I liked. I didn’t expect us to go out there and get Kevin Durant all of a sudden. I think that the conversations that we’ve had, what we’ve sat down and talked about I feel like it’s genuine that we’re trying to move in the right direction and give our team a chance to go get it done.
Lillard also said even with a similar roster to last season’s team, the fresh perspective from the new coaching staff makes him believe this year’s squad will improve defensively.
It was just basically a decade of we were the same team, the same style. just having a new staff that brings something different. New people, new faces, new voices. I think that’s gonna probably automatically give us a step in the right direction because we’re hearing something fresh.
Just walking through things, talking through things that we’ve been doing while we had guys in the gym. I feel like the amount of detail, the focus on it, the amount of time we spend talking about it and pointing out spots on the court and things like that — feel like we’ll be a much better defensive team.
Lillard discussed his history of “seeing things through” even when they became difficult or people told him to quit, such as with his music, the Olympics, and his marriage. He said that this part of his identity makes him want to keep fighting for a championship in Portland.
Any time I ever had a fight, any time I’ve ever been a part of something, I’ll go out on my shield. All of those things that I stuck with and these were the end results of it — is what has me here. Is what keeps me so invested here. I want to see it through. I want to see it happen.
While spending this summer on Team USA in the Olympics, Lillard said conversations he had with his Team USA teammates and players on the Team USA women’s team made him believe that he could win a championship. Lillard cited the Golden State Warriors as inspiration.
Like Golden State in 2015. The first one that they won, nobody expected them to come out and just win like that and they just came out and won. That was something I hold onto....You just never know.
Lillard also said watching the postseason this past year gave him more confidence about winning a championship.
Then also watching last year’s postseason, I was even more convinced. I know it can be done.
When asked about his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccination, Lillard mentioned his family as a primary motivation.
I’m not mad at people who say they need to do their research. But I have a lot of people in my family that I spend time around. I’m just not going to put their lives in danger. As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life.
Damian Lillard on getting vaccinated: "I'm not mad at people who say they need to do their research. But I have a lot of people in my family that I spend time around. I'm just not going to put their lives in danger. As a kid, I had to get shots my whole life."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) September 27, 2021