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.
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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.”
How about @warriors 6th man? We’ll welcome you with open arms in the Bay! Damian Lillard: Not I
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.
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September 17, 2021 | 4:34 am EDT Update
Marc Gasol is a name to watch. He just wiggled his way away from the Lakers and, according to an ESPN report, plans to remain in Spain while sorting out the next (and perhaps last) phase of his playing career. Gasol nearly signed with the Warriors last summer — and might have done so had Thompson not ruptured his Achilles before free agency. It may never materialize, but he has the exact passing acumen and center skill set that has traditionally fit Kerr’s offense best, similar to David West and Andrew Bogut.
Frank Vogel’s former assistant coach Jason Kidd left the Los Angeles Lakers to become the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. He joined fellow former NBA stars Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins on ESPN’s The Jump to talk about his visit to Slovenia for the signing of a 5-year $207 million super max extension with Luka Doncic. “One, [Slovenia] is a beautiful country,” Kidd recalled his visit to Luka’s homeland. “I had a lot of fun and spending time at dinner with Luka and also at the press conference. What an incredible 22-year-old. He’s wise before his years. So I’m just excited to have the opportunity to coach him.”
“It was incredible again. Another beautiful place,” Kidd said on ESPN’s The Jump. “I got to hang out with KP. We had a couple dinners, I got to see him work out. But I also got to just see him on his turf I think a lot of times we don’t get to see our Europeans their homes. So I got the opportunity to go over there and hang out and we had a great time. “KP’s incredible not just a basketball player but a person. We all know.. well, I just learned that he loves the fights, the boxing matches and stuff like that. You look at just learning something new about a person by going to their hometown was something that I was excited about doing and I had a great time.”
There’s no denying that Denver Nuggets stud Michael Porter Jr. is one of the brightest young talents in the NBA today. However, for those who may not be too familiar with his injury history, there was actually one point in his career that people doubted if he would ever be able to play again. Apparently, one of his biggest non-believers happened to be the head doctor for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets forward remembers that exact moment to this very day: “All Top 10 teams have their doctors there and they’re just evaluating me,” Porter said in a recent appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & the Three podcast. “The guy from the Clippers was the head doctor and he’s the one that wrote the report, it’s like, ‘yeah, he probably will never play again.’”
In this Club Shay Shay clip, the new Phoenix Suns big man JaVale McGee tells Shannon Sharpe what to expect in his former Golden State Warriors teammate Klay Thompson’s return: “I expect the old Klay. I can maybe see him slacking on defense in the first month because in the offseason you don’t get those reps. But offensively, he didn’t hurt his arm, so that boy is going to shoot.”
UFC fighter Ryan Spann trains at the gym owned by ex-NBA star Deron Williams … and the light heavyweight contender once sparred with the hooper — AND GOT HIS BUTT KICKED!! “Deron whooped my ass one day. I’m dead serious. You can call him and ask him,” Spann told TMZ Sports.
Context? We talked to the 30-year-old, 6’5″, 205 lb. fighter just days before he’s set to face 6th ranked LHW, Anthony Smith … and we asked the 11th ranked fighter if he ever rolled around with 6’3″ Williams at their gym, Fortis MMA in Dallas. “I was training for a fight, and coach was like, ‘Deron, get in.’ And, I already knew he hooped, and I knew who he was, but I never got to go with him,” Ryan said, “I think it was my 2nd or my 3rd round with a fresh body, and you put Deron in, I was like, ‘Oh s**t, nice, I get a round off.’ Little did I know Deron used to wrestle. And, he was about 230 at the time.”