Lillard: NBA title would not be as ‘fulfilling’ away from Portland
Damian Lillard confirmed a two-year extension with the Portland Trail Blazers, seeing him through to the 2026-27 season.
Damian Lillard insisted that while he wants to compete for an NBA title, he wants to do it with the Portland Trail Blazers and will be able to live with it if he does not achieve that goal. Lillard confirmed a two-year extension with the Blazers, seeing him through to the 2026-27 season with the team that took him with the sixth pick in 2012 NBA Draft.
The six-time All-Star played only 29 games for Portland this past season, undergoing abdominal surgery in January before being shut down for the rest of the campaign. Speaking at a news conference to announce the signing at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the 31-year-old made it clear he is will be loyal to Portland as long as he can compete there.
“I’ve always said that if I do something that goes against who I am, and say I do end up winning, I know me better than any of y’all know me,” Lillard said. “So I’d be happy with it, because I don’t think anybody wouldn’t be happy being a champion, but it wouldn’t be as fulfilling to me as I would want that moment to be. It’s going to get done or it’s not going to get done. I don’t want to go out there with this crazy uphill battle that I’m fighting and we need a miracle times 10 to get it done. I just want a shot at it, and if that happens and it doesn’t work out, then I can live with that.”
While Lillard was sidelined, the Blazers made pulled off a number of trades before the February deadline, which included sending back-court partner CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans. They have then made moves to build around Lillard this off-season, acquiring Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons as well as signing free agent Gary Payton II, who was a key defensive piece to the Golden State Warriors’ title run.
With that in mind, Lillard takes a sense of pride in Portland opting to build around him while he recovered, especially in this era of player power in the NBA. “I don’t think that you earn something like this just by going out there and scoring a bunch of points,” he said. “Something that’s missing in our league is character, and the fight and the passion and pride about, you know, not just the name on the back, but the name on the front, and how you impact the people that you come in contact with.”