Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has been in the center of NBA discussions all summer, since an early-July trade request away from the team he’s anchored for more than a decade. In the midst of the storm, Lillard is being cautious about how he talks about the matter. Potential fines are a likely cause, along with a bit of PR common sense.
As Marc Spears reports, when Lillard was interviewed at his Formula Zero Elite Camp, he shut down questions about the Trail Blazers themselves.
When asked about the trade request specifically to the 2023 Eastern Conference champion Heat, Lillard told Andscape: “I can say that there was [a trade request] and I would just prefer not to speak on the Trail Blazers.”
Lillard was far more forthcoming about his relationship with Portland fans, however:
“I love the city of Portland,” Lillard said. “Every initiative that I’ve started, I’ll continue and I’ll finish regardless of anything. The love will be that because the way I’ve said I feel about Portland is how I feel about Portland. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It’s been fine. It’s been what it’s always been …
“[Portland-area residents] just tell me they love me. That’s literally what they say. ‘Dame, we love you. We thank you for everything.’ That’s the dialogue. It’s pretty simple and to the point.”
He also clarified his definition of loyalty, an oft-used word in his lexicon:
“If you look at the history of me speaking about loyalty, I’ve always said that I’m loyal to who I am and I’m going to do what I feel like is the right thing to do,” Lillard said. “For me, I know what I want for myself and I’m going to be loyal to that. When I feel like this is the vision I have for myself, this is what I see being fit for me at this moment, I’m going to ride that until the wheels fall off but anything that I’m a part of, it all has to be connected.
“It has to be aligned in what I see happening. That’s just a priority for me. It has to be that way. It all has to be connected and it has to mean the same for me as it means for anybody that’s a part of that. That’s what I’m loyal to.”
Spears’ article has far more about Lillard, much of it from Dame’s own mouth. Lillard speaks on his friendship with CJ McCollum, his perceptions of Portland’s past roster moves, how he gets through turmoil himself, his rap career, and much more.