LAS VEGAS – Damian Lillard has made it clear over the years that he wants to stay with the Portland Trail Blazers his entire career and live with him if the organization doesn’t win a title in his playing career. Lillard, who announced his two-year extension with the Blazers at a news conference Saturday, was asked how he doubled down on his desire to stay in Portland through all the trouble. “I’ve always said that if I do something against who I am and I’m told I can win, I know myself better than anyone who knows me,” Lillard said. “That’s why I’m happy with it, because I don’t think there’s anything unfortunate about becoming champion, but it’s not as satisfying for me as I wanted the opportunity to be. “As long as I have a chance to do it, a good chance [to compete for the title], I’m at least ready to come out.” Lillard, 31, said several times Saturday that he has to drown out the noise of people saying he needs to go somewhere else to win a title. But he made it clear that he is confident in his desire to continue to lead the Blazers back into contention.
“That’s where I always stand, and that’s where I stand,” Lillard said. “It’s gone or it’s not over yet. I don’t want to get out of this crazy hard war I’m fighting and we need a tenfold miracle to finish it. I just want one shot and if it happens and it happens.” I don’t work, then I’ll live with it.” Lillard, who played just 29 games last season when he suffered a core muscle injury, said it would make sense for him not to sign another big extension to help set a new bar for the younger generation. young players but also being a losing player. the trend of changing teams at a time when many stars are constantly on the move and looking for better situations. “I’m so proud of the man,” Lillard said. “Because I don’t think you can get something like that by going out and scoring a lot of points. And the one thing our league lacks is character and fight and love and pride, not just the name on the back, but the name.” on the front and how you influence the people you know. “And I think because of the magnitude of me accepting it and pretending not to accept it, that’s really who I am, and I think that just shows the power of that. Get your heart in the right place and think about it.” .a good place.” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups reiterated Lillard’s commitment to the team, calling it “a fantastic day for our organization.”
“We’re very, very fortunate in our market, in our franchise, to have a guy like Dame,” Billups said. “Superstars in our game today are different than our generation, in the way that they’ve taken ownership of their careers. And what I mean by that is, there’s a lot of superstars that, if they don’t want to be somewhere, they find a way to get where they want to go. And Dame has been very clear about his intentions and being in Portland and playing in front of the Portland fans, and I got a lot of respect for him for that because it just doesn’t happen.”
Billups, who won a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and was widely considered one of the most clutch players of his era, knows how much Lillard’s commitment means to a Blazers team that is trying to turn things around after going 27-55 last season.
“In our game today, you got two kinds of teams,” Billups said. “A team that has a superstar and teams that are looking for one. We’re lucky enough to have one and one that wants to be here. So that’s great. There’s been a lot of change in this organization; he’s stuck by us all, through it all.”
Lillard is hopeful that by staying in Portland, he will be able to show a whole new generation of young players that they can still find happiness in one city, even if their team hits some tough times through the years.
“Hopefully, it will have an impact going forward,” Lillard said. “It don’t got to be, ‘Oh, the media says this’ or ‘Everybody’s telling me this.’ And you just get swayed into doing what everybody is trying to convince you to do. Because nobody is going to live with those decisions like you will. So I’m proud to be the person to jump out, and this organization has shown that type of trust and faith in me.
“But I’m even more proud of what a commitment like this from the organization represents. And I hope that that’s what will reach guys that will come behind this.”