Damian Lillard has spent his entire career with the Portland Trail Blazers up to this point, and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere. During a recent appearance on the Dave Pasch Podcast, Lillard said that he still plans to spend the rest of his career in Portland.
“I do. I do,” Lillard replied when asked if he still sees himself finishing out his career with the Blazers. “I’ve had my share of people saying, ‘Man, you got to get out of there. You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ But I’m the type of person that I’m never going to be marching to the beat of nobody else’s drum. I’m going to always do what I feel like is in my best interest and that I really feel in my heart.
Lillard continued: “I want to win. I want to win in Portland. It would mean something to me to do it here. … This is me being loyal to who I am, and how I feel and what I want to see happen. I would love to finish my career here. That’s my plan, and that’s that.”
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The Trail Blazers selected Lillard with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. At this point, only two active players — Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — have been with the team that drafted them longer than Lillard. Loyalty is obviously extremely important to Lillard, and by staying in Portland he feels as though he’s being loyal to himself first and foremost, in addition to also being loyal to the Blazers organization.
“People say ‘He’s being loyal,’ and ‘loyalty this and loyalty that.’ And I’m naturally a loyal person,” Lillard said. “I do have a level of loyalty to the [Blazers] organization, but this loyalty that they’re talking about is ultimately to who I am as a person. I’m being loyal to who I am and not getting besides myself. I’m somebody that, I believe what I believe. I think I can get it done.
“I feel like we’ll have a chance to win,” he added. “I feel like that moment is going to come. I feel like that opportunity is going to come, and that’s that. As long as I feel that our organization is putting their best foot forward and we’re on the same page about doing everything that we can do to win, then I’m willing to go out swinging.”
After inking a fresh, two-year, $122 million extension with the Blazers in July, Lillard explained why continuing to try to bring a championship to Portland was more alluring to him than joining up with other stars elsewhere and finding success that way.
“I’ve always said that if I do something that goes against who I am, and say I do end up winning, I know me better than any of y’all know me. So I’d be happy with it, because I don’t think anybody wouldn’t be happy being a champion, but it wouldn’t be as fulfilling to me as I would want that moment to be,”. “As long as I have an opportunity to do it, a good opportunity to [compete for a title], I’m willing to go out however.”
In an era where long-term commitment is nearly non-existent and players seem to switch squads at a breakneck pace, it is refreshing to have a star player basically say “hey, I’m going to be here.” Will Lillard’s stance limit his prospects when it comes to winning a title? Probably, but he’s made it clear that doing things his way is equally as important to him, and that’s worthy of respect.