For years, people have questioned Damian Lillard's loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers. As noble as it may seem, some believe he's wasting the prime of his career and will never win an NBA championship there.
Lillard has repeatedly stated his desire to retire in Rip City. He wants to be the greatest player in franchise history and lead them back to the NBA Finals for the first time since they lost to Michael Jordan.
However, the organization went through some turmoil last season and trade rumors started to surface. That's why he agreed to meet with LeBron James and hear him out as he tried to recruit him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
NBA News: LeBron James Recruited Damian Lillard To Join The Lakers
(via The Ringer)
“He was just like, ‘Pull up to the house and I’m like, sh*t, I’m out here. Tomorrow is the only day I ain’t got nothing planned out. I can pull up for a little bit.”
“We just chopped it up just about the possibilities,” Lillard said. “What’s going on with you?” Lillard said James asked him. “And I was like, ‘I really don’t know what we’re doing,’” he said. “It was just a conversation like that.”
“I wasn’t even looking at it like a recruiting process,” he added. “The whole time I was like, ‘I play for the Blazers.’ My only point is, let’s give ourselves a chance. I wasn’t sending any shots or sending no threats. I’m just honest. When I get asked a question, I answer the question. Because these questions had never been asked.”
Lillard Wants To Win In Rip City
Eventually, Lillard didn't try to force his way out of the team and decided to run it back in Portland. Then, he reaffirmed his commitment to the organization and he's still confident that they can get it done there:
“I want to win as a Trail Blazer. I want to win a championship where I am. I don’t think I would feel the same joy and happiness if I did it elsewhere. I would be happy, no doubt. Like winning a chip, you get that experience,” Lillard said.
Unfortunately, chances are that Lillard will never even make it to the NBA Finals if he stays with that franchise for the remainder of his career. But props to him for staying loyal in a time when players rather jump ship to pursue a ring.