Damian Lillard says he doesn’t know if he can extend his career for a long time because he doesn’t “enjoy what the NBA as a whole is becoming”.
Lillard was referring to the importance that’s placed on winning championships when quantifying a player’s greatness, with everything else being overlooked in his opinion.
“I feel like I play for the love of the game,” Lillard said on JJ Redick’s podcast. “I want the competition. I want to know what it feels like to win. I want to see my teammates do well. I want to see my teammates get paid. I enjoy the bonding part of it, like we spend more time with each other than anybody.”
“While I understand we play to win championships—we all want to win the championship—we can’t keep acting like nothing matters. Like the rest of this stuff, the journey, doesn’t matter. We can’t keep doing that. … I don’t know if I can just play a long, long time, because I don’t enjoy what the NBA as a whole is becoming.”
Lillard has certainly paid a price for remaining loyal to the Blazers. He’s made it out of the second round just once, and even then was swept by the Warriors in the next round. Dame has also been swept in the first round twice.
Inevitably, Lillard’s track record (and his dismissiveness of it) has resulted in some criticism, including on this website, and more recently, the Basketball Forever Podcast.
“He was getting all the praise for being loyal and everything else, and then he complains that players are judged by championships,” Basketball Forever founder Alex Sumsky said on the BF Podcast. “I guess that works for a while, maybe in the earlier stages of your career… but you can’t die on that hill. That can’t be your line forever.
“You don’t get to say how amazing it is that you’re this loyal player, and on the other hand, whinge that people are criticising that you don’t have a championship or even a Finals appearance. I don’t think you get to have a bet both ways.”
Despite claiming to be disrespected, Lillard was given one of the highest possible honors when he was named in the NBA’s Top 75 Players of All-Time.
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