Damian Lillard, for almost his entire time in Portland, has been linked with a trade or move to another big-market team. Lillard is a superstar in the NBA but is playing in Portland, and the Trail Blazers have not been able to attract a superstar to their team to give him the support he needs.
Despite this, Lillard has maintained that he wants to stay in Portland and win a championship for the Trail Blazers franchise. He hasn't come close to achieving that yet. And after their disappointing first-round exit in the 2021 playoffs, many expected that to be the last straw for Lillard in Portland.
And it very well could have been. In a recent interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, Lillard revealed that he met with LeBron James during the summer, who was trying to bring him to the Lakers to join him and Anthony Davis and form a super team.
As we know now, Lillard ultimately rejected the proposal, and the Lakers went and got Russell Westbrook to form a super team. Lillard revealed that he didn't feel that it was the right thing for him, and it didn't feel natural or correct for him to leave the Blazers and form a super team.
“’Bron asked what I was thinking with my situation, and I told him what I’m telling you: that I just want to be in a position to win it all. He painted the picture to me that if I were to leave, the situation could look like this. He didn’t tell me to come to L.A., and he didn’t say anything to me that I didn’t already know other than what it could look like. I told him, ‘I know if I were to play with y’all, I know it would work out because of my skill set,’ and who I am and who they are.”
“I think the media is so strong now that a lot of top players have become influenced by the media. And for me, I think some media people have an issue with me or they view my stance as coming off a certain way. I don’t tune out what they say, but I just do what I want to do. And I think people look at it like, ‘Ah, he’s just taking the money. He doesn’t want to win.’ The media is so accustomed to rocking the boat and making people move how they want to move, and that’s not going to happen with me."
“I’m sure it would be great to play with LeBron and AD and play in a big market, but as attractive as it sounded and as fun as that might be, I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong. And one thing I want to emphasize is that this decision wasn’t made out of comfort. I’m not afraid to be out of my comfort zone because I’m going to live here when I’m done playing regardless. I made my decision based on what I actually want to do.”
Despite Dame being from Oakland, he considered Portland his home and wants to win a championship there. He even said that he would be so overcome with emotion that he would cry if he could achieve that.
Lillard realizes that he may not win a championship in Portland, recently admitting in a freestyle that him not joining a super team might 'be his Achilles heel'. But for the time being, he is committed to defying the odds and bringing an NBA championship to the Trail Blazers franchise.