When Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard visited the Barclays Center last week to view a Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers playoffs game from the front row, it set off a mini-firestorm across the league. Trade speculation mounted as Brooklyn fans and the Portland faithful engaged in a back-and-forth battle, seeing who could underbid the other for their franchise superstar (Lillard and Nets forward Mikal Bridges).
As it turns out, Lillard was just watching a basketball game. Or that’s the report from long-time insider Chris Haynes via his #thisleague UNCUT podcast with analyst Marc Stein. Haynes allows that Lillard is good friends with Bridges, but adds that Lillard had music projects to work on in the Big City and simply stopped by the game as a fan. Haynes also suggests that Lillard tried to get similar seats to see the New York Knicks play the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was unsuccessful.
The Lillard discussion starts just after the 18:00 mark of the podcast. The show and a transcript of the relevant section follows.
Haynes: So, listen, I pretty much knew the reason he went, but I made a call to Damian Lillard himself before we started this podcast and just wanted to get it clear, get it straight. He told me he went there for some meetings and he went there for some musical projects he’s working on, and he wanted me to announce that he’s dropping his new album next month. He didn’t give me the name, he didn’t give me who’s being featured on it as of right now, but he’s dropping his new album next month. Also, Mikal Bridges, you know, that’s a really good friend of his, and he said he went out there to support him, and this was his first NBA game attending as a professional player. He’s never attended another NBA game since he was drafted in 2012.
Stein: So, his fan debut, courtside at Barclays Center.
Haynes: Exactly. His fan debut. And I know people making the connection and all that stuff, trying to connect dots. There’s no dots to be connected right now. But I will add this: He also tried to get a courtside seat to the Knicks game but they couldn’t accommodate him. They couldn’t get him a ticket for the seat that he wanted, and the Brooklyn Nets were the only team that was able to accommodate him with a courtside seat. So, you actually would have seen him at a Nets and a Knicks game, but he couldn’t get the seat he wanted.