We all saw how Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook took their rivalry to another level during last season’s playoffs, when the Portland Trail Blazers took on the Oklahoma City Thunder, defeating them in 5 games.
It’s hard to forget that Lillard killed the 5th game of the series with a 37-foot shot at the buzzer to win it over Paul George. A lot was said about these two and their rivalry, with people claiming that Dame and Brodie disliked each other.
A couple of months after the series, Lillard has dismissed those comments, stating that there is no bad blood between him and Russ.
“I think it’s a competitive rivalry,” Lillard told Omar Raja of House of Highlights in a newly released interview.
“I respect him a lot. He respects me a lot. I was disappointed that people tried to make it a dislike-type of rivalry because me and Russ is actually cool. I don’t have a problem with him. He don’t have a problem with me.”
They were spotted several times taunting at each other during that series, with Westbrook claiming he was ‘busting Lillard’s ass’ for several years.
Right after that Game 5, Damian went after the eight-time NBA All-Star in his media interviews.
“Said he’s been busting my ass for years. That wasn’t true, for one, and this was the moment of truth. This was the perfect platform and opportunity for him to prove it and you see what happened.” — @Dame_Lillard
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) April 24, 2019
In the next few days, Dame changed his tone, with the four-time All-Star guard explaining that they are friends off the court.
Never did https://t.co/29VM5asQ3n
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 29, 2019
Now, during his interview with House of Highlights, Lillard expounded on the dynamic between himself and Westbrook):
“That dude is super competitive, and so am I. He ain’t friendly. He’s open with his meanness [and] louder about it. I’m not friendly, either. It’s all competitive, that’s all it is.”
Albeit people tend to make things bigger than they actually are, it’s clear now that there is nothing but respect between these two. Still, we can’t wait until the two stars face each other on the court again. That’s a very likely scenario seeing the changes the Trail Blazers made in the summer and Russ’ arrival to the Houston Rockets.