Although the noise surrounding the next move in Damian Lillard’s trade saga remains to be discovered, the Portland Trail Blazers superstar has, at least, remained vocal throughout the offseason.
Appearing on multiple podcasts this week, Lillard joined the “BACKONFIGG” show yesterday, entertaining topics such as his relationship with the Blazers’ front office, his 11-year title pursuit, sneakers, hip-hop and much more.
In terms of Blazers-specific news, Lillard’s comments on Portland’s front office — candidly comparing it to a pair of friends who no longer mutually share the same viewpoints — perhaps stand out most:
“See this the type I am. I would never fold under nothing. I’ll sink with the ship, I’ll go down. That’s how I would do it. But I think it’s a way that you have to go about things where you can’t be an idiot. You say, ‘I’m gonna stay down, I’m gonna ride until the wheels fall off. I don’t have to prove that to nobody. Like, I’m shown it, I mean that in my heart.
But that’s like me and you saying, ‘No matter what happens, we ain’t telling on each other.’ And then, a day comes where I’m still playing by those same rules, like me and you want the same thing. We gone go out together and that ain’t the code you want to live by no more. So, when that happens, we can’t be how we was. That’s the day that’s come. Like if me and you don’t want the same thing no more, and you showing me that you don’t want the same thing, we don’t want the same thing.”
In shorter terms, this reinforces what has been somewhat said, dating back to Lillard’s 2022-23 exit interview, with the seven-time All-Star expressing a distaste in an inexperienced, youthful roster that wouldn’t compete for a championship. In his eyes, the competitive core values aren’t aligned across the two parties.
In terms of on-court play, Lillard did offer some commentary into his thoughts on playing in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Citing fatherhood and family as one potential reason why he might not participate, he did offer this:
“I would want to do it just to get a healthy one in, because I was hurt like a motherf— , I ended up having surgery right after that. But, just to get a healthy one in, being able to play with all of them. Being able to step outside of my role and be able to just catch-and-shoot, get up and down, have some fun, that’d be cool.”
Lillard’s Olympic legacy, for what it’s worth, already has some padding; he contributed heavily to the gold medal-winning 2020 team during the Japan Summer Olympics. Of interest, Lillard (wisely) declined to definitively comment when asked about what player he felt he had the most chemistry with during those games.
The future Hall-of-Famer also offered up his own personal take on what the best year of his career was, something that’s often debated between the likes of the 2019-20 bubble season, the 2020-21 campaign, and his most recent brilliance from 2022-23.
“I feel like this past season was my best season. I had like a 35-game stretch where I averaged like 39. It was like December to March, and I had 50, I had 60, I had 70. I had 40 a bunch of times. And every game I went out there, like, they gone try their hardest to gameplan, but I felt like it didn’t matter what nobody did, I’m gone score 40. And I wasn’t even going out there trying to hog. I was just in a good rhythm, I was in flow, I was healthy.
Lillard’s first time feeling like “the guy” came in 2015-16, the post-LaMarcus-Aldridge year. After confidence-boosting performances on the way to a second-round trip, Lillard admitted that he entered 2016-17 prepared to chase the Most Valuable Player award.
For those interested in the full, two-hour appearance with Lillard, the group also discusses topics such as: his pre-NBA motivations, his rap career, accidentally ending Steve Nash’s career, boxing, and financial literacy, among much else. The link to it can be found above.