LAS VEGAS — Damian Lillard has made it clear through the years that he needs to stick with the Portland Trail Blazers all through his profession and can stay with it if the group cannot win a title throughout his enjoying profession.
Lillard, talking Saturday at a information convention saying his two-year extension with the Blazers, was requested about how he doubled down on his want to remain in Portland by way of thick and skinny.
“I’ve at all times stated that if I do one thing that goes towards who I’m, and say I do find yourself successful, I do know me higher than any of y’all know me,” Lillard stated. “So I might be pleased with it, as a result of I do not suppose anyone would not be pleased being a champion, but it surely would not be as fulfilling to me as I might need that second to be.
“So long as I’ve a chance to do it, an excellent alternative to [compete for a title], I am keen to exit nevertheless.”
Lillard, 31, stated a number of instances on Saturday that he needed to block out noise from folks saying he needed to go elsewhere to win a title. However he made it clear that he was assured in his want to maintain attempting to carry the Blazers again into competition.
“That is the place I’ve at all times stood, and that is the place I stand,” Lillard stated. “It will get finished or it isn’t going to get finished. I do not wish to go on the market with this loopy uphill battle that I am preventing and we’d like a miracle instances 10 to get it finished. I simply need a shot at it, and if that occurs and it does not work out, then I can stay with that.”
Lillard, who performed in simply 29 video games final season whereas coping with a core muscle harm, stated it was significant to him to not solely signal one other huge extension that helps set a brand new bar for youthful gamers, however to even be the participant who has bucked the pattern of switching groups in an period when many stars ceaselessly transfer round searching for higher conditions.
“I really feel proud to be that guy,” Lillard stated. “As a result of I do not suppose you earn one thing like this simply by going on the market and scoring a bunch of factors. And one thing that is lacking in our league is the character and the battle and the fervour and pleasure about not simply the title on the again, however the title on the entrance and the way you impression the folks that you simply are available contact with.
“And I believe due to how a lot I’ve embraced that and I have not pretended to embrace it, that is actually who I’m, and I believe this simply reveals the ability in that. It reveals that there is one thing there for being dedicated and having your coronary heart in the fitting place and having your thoughts in the fitting place.”
Blazers coach Chauncey Billups reiterated how a lot Lillard’s dedication meant to the workforce, calling it “an unimaginable day for our group.”
“We’re very, very lucky in our market, in our franchise, to have a guy like Dame,” Billups stated. “Superstars in our sport at this time are completely different than our era, in the way in which that they’ve taken possession of their careers. And what I imply by that’s, there’s quite a lot of superstars that, if they do not wish to be someplace, they discover a approach to get the place they wish to go. And Dame has been very clear about his intentions and being in Portland and enjoying in entrance of the Portland followers, and I bought quite a lot of respect for him for that as a result of it simply does not occur.”
Billups, who received a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and was extensively thought of probably the most clutch gamers of his period, is aware of how a lot Lillard’s dedication means to a Blazers workforce that’s attempting to show issues round after going 27-55 final season.
“In our sport at this time, you bought two sorts of groups,” Billups stated. “A workforce that has a famous person and groups which might be searching for one. We’re fortunate sufficient to have one and one that desires to be right here. In order that’s nice. There’s been quite a lot of change on this group; he’s caught by us all, by way of all of it.”
Lillard is hopeful that by staying in Portland, he will be capable of present a complete new era of younger gamers that they’ll nonetheless discover happiness in a single metropolis, even when their workforce hits some robust instances by way of the years.
“Hopefully, it should have an effect going ahead,” Lillard stated. “It do not bought to be, ‘Oh, the media says this’ or ‘Everyone’s telling me this.’ And also you simply get swayed into doing what all people is attempting to persuade you to do. As a result of no one goes to stay with these selections like you’ll. So I am proud to be the person to leap out, and this group has proven that kind of belief and religion in me.
“However I am much more pleased with what a dedication like this from the group represents. And I hope that that is what is going to attain guys that may come behind this.”