As a Knicks fan, I wish you would come here. Madison Square Garden is so great. Damian Lillard: I thought I was headed there a few years ago; I was hearing trade rumors. The Garden is my favorite place to play.
Damian Lillard: I’m saying, you think you know how deep this goes, but you have no idea. When I say that I will never, ever switch up on the city of Portland, I mean what I say. When I say that I will never, ever switch up on this organization, I mean what I say. They might switch up on me. That’s business. That’s basketball. But I will never switch up on the city. I don’t want it easy. I’m drawn to the struggle. When I came here, we hadn’t won a playoff series since 2000. You had so many injuries to franchise guys like Brandon Roy and Greg Oden over the years, and it’s so tough to come back from that. Even going way back, you had All-Stars like Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton who didn’t choose to end their careers as a Blazer.
He struggled this summer dealing with the Blazers’ first-round playoff sweep to New Orleans, which he considers “one of the worst things of my career.” There are still moments that trigger his irritation, where he feels underappreciated and misunderstood. “I could easily be like, man, I want to go here, I want to be here, I don’t owe anybody anything, this is what I want to do,” Lillard says. “But I’m different.”
He says he can take the criticism for the playoff collapse, for he knows his history of responding to every failure stronger than before. And he knows that his is a story bigger than basketball. “Everything can fall on my shoulders; I can be blamed,” Lillard said. “My feelings ain’t hurt because I know I’m in the right place. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. Like the true impact and looking at the larger picture? I’m where I need to be.”
Can you see yourself playing your entire career with the Blazers? Damian Lillard: Definitely. I like living in Portland and I like the organization. It’s a great organization and they take care of us in every way possible. I’m happy with the situation that I’m in, and my family is happy with the situation and where we’re living. It’s a place where I’d want to play my entire career. Obviously, with this being a business, people’s feelings change about players. And players’ feelings change about organizations; I don’t think mine will, though, because I really like where I am and where I live and stuff like that. But you just never know.
So when Lillard was asked that question Friday night, about becoming the first Blazer to have 40 and 10 in the Moda Center, his answer should catch your ear. “It’s always good to be the first one to do something,’’ Lillard said. “Especially being part of an organization I plan on being a part of for my entire career. It’s an honor, but I would have liked for it to be in a winning effort.’’
He says the organization has embraced him as a person. Also, the city and fan base appeal to his core values. “When I really like what a place is about, that’s what I want to stick to. I want to stick to things that click with who I am as a person,’’ Lillard said.
August 11, 2022 | 1:05 pm EDT Update
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is in awe of the fact that Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is still performing at an incredibly high level. James reportedly spends 1.5 million dollars per year to ensure that his body is in tip-top shape, which is something that Giannis made reference to. “It’s interesting to me how LeBron is still one of the best shapes in his life and being the best player in the world and still being in year 18,” Antetokounmpo said. “Like, that’s really interesting. I want to know how he does that. “He’s been consistent for 18 years. He’s always there. He’s always showing up. That’s unbelievable. “He obviously gets credit, but I think we’ve got to give him more credit. Doing it for 18 years guys, that’s hard.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Watching the first two episodes of Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers brought back a lot of wonderful and emotional memories. The effortless camaraderie, the elite athleticism, and the dominating play was exciting to watch. But I was surprised that it also gave me some fresh insights into that time that even I hadn’t thought about before. While enjoying watching one of the best teams in the history of the NBA find their mojo as a team together, I also realized that Dr. Jerry Buss and I were on parallel journeys at the same time.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: In 1979, when Dr. Buss bought the Lakers, I’d been playing for the team for four years. I’d come from the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles had a lot of expectations for me. As a Buck, I set NBA records and helped them win their first NBA championship by sweeping the Baltimore Bullets 4-0. The Lakers expected me to bring them championships, too. Believe me, I felt that weight every single day. I tried hard those first years to live up to what LA expected: My 1,111 defensive rebounds my first season as a Laker remains an NBA single-season record. I received my fourth MVP award that same season, the first in Lakers franchise history. Despite me playing some of the best basketball in my career, the team didn’t win the championships all of LA was hoping for. I felt like I’d let the LA fans down.
August 11, 2022 | 11:23 am EDT Update
On June 30, Kevin Durant formally asked the Brooklyn Nets to trade him. On July 1, league sources say Durant was owed and received an eight-figure check from the Nets — one of two massive advance payments that the disgruntled superstar is scheduled to collect from Brooklyn by Oct. 1 while he’s also in the midst of lobbying the team to move him. If it wasn’t sufficiently audacious that Durant is demanding a trade before playing a single game under the four-year, $194 million contract extension he signed in August 2021, there’s even more to consider.
Dario Saric, 28, was forced to sit out the entire 2021-22 NBA season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals. But he is cleared for action and set up for the Chequered Ones. “I missed the national team, it is always an honor and pride to play for Croatia,” he explained to gathered reporters during a break from practice, “The feeling of being back is fantastic. After the end of the NBA season, I trained there until mid-July. I was preparing to be as fit as possible. I feel good. It’s nice to be with these players.”