It's no secret that Damian Lillard and The Portland Trail Blazers have been struggling this season. 2-8 in their last 10 games, the team has not looked good over the past few weeks, and Dame has been shooting with abysmal percentages across the board.
Amid the struggles, heavy criticism and doubt have been cast on him and his team.
But after dropping a season-high 43 points in a win against the Hornets on Friday, Lillard shot back at all the doubters, demanding some respect.
“I’ve done so much in my career, specifically in Portland. I’ve given everything. I’ve never made an excuse, I’ve never disrespected any of y’all, I’ve never not given you guys time. Just when our team is going through it, I’m in a bit of a struggle you know, I see people not giving me that same respect. So that’s why I’m a little irritated in here, but with my team I’m happy with what we did.”
In the same token, it's important to note that Lillard is not happy with his current situation.
He admitted to the world that he is frustrated with the losses but also denied that any of it has an impact on his loyalty to the franchise.
“We have a new offense. A new style. A new way of playing,” Lillard said. “Me being the leader, I have to overly buy in. I have to show I am committed to that regardless of what it looks like for me, even if I’m struggling offensively to find my spots, to find my way in the offense. Even if I’m missing shots, I got to be the person to show the most buy-in to get everyone to buy in."
“People are saying, ‘Dame is frustrated.’ I am frustrated with losing and not playing my best. But that doesn’t mean I’m sour on my team and I’m looking elsewhere. … That has never been me. This isn’t my first time being in a tough situation.”
At this point, it's hard to say for certain what the future has in store for Dame. With a new coach and a whole new system, the Blazers have dug an early hole this season and there's no easy way out.
The only thing left for Lillard to do is get himself right, keep steering the ship, and get his squad through this rough stretch. And you can bet there will be a whole lot of chatter along the way.