Damian Lillard has been widely regarded as one of the best teammates in the NBA. The Portland Trail Blazers star has been relatively drama-free throughout his career. Even this offseason when most people expected the wheels to fall off with his time in Portland, he still chose to commit to the franchise that drafted him.
We recently heard from Carmelo Anthony on All The Smoke about his first-hand experience with Damian Lillard in Portland. Even in just his two seasons with the Blazers, Melo knew the type of person he was, even outside of the basketball court.
Now imagine being Damian Lillard’s longest-tenured teammate. CJ McCollum was drafted by the Blazers one year after Lillard, and they’ve been together ever since.
The newly inducted president of the NBA Players Association made an appearance on The Old Man and the Three podcast with J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter and spoke candidly about his relationship with Damian Lillard over the years.
“Dame could have easily swayed the Blazers away from drafting me. First of all, he could’ve been like, ‘nah, we don’t need another major guard. Let’s go for the 6’7 whatever.’ He encouraged it. He basically persuaded them.”
“We were friends before I was drafted, which made our relationship easier. It wasn’t forced. … He’ll tell you all that time that I’m crazy. He respected my crazy. How I wasn’t afraid to challenge people. How I wasn’t afraid to guard people in practice. I’ll talk trash to him, I’ll talk trash to whoever. I wasn’t trying to be like. I was just being myself and I think he respected that.”
One very interesting tidbit was when the Blazers shooting guard revealed how Damian Lillard cheered for him early on whenever he was on the bench.
“When I go into the game, I watch how he cheered for him. You can tell a lot by how your teammates mess with you when you watch film. I’m breaking down who stands up when I score, and who doesn’t. You can always see that he was rooting for my success.”
It’s always been the little things with Damian Lillard that have added up over time. He’s been nothing but the consummate professional with the Portland Trail Blazers and everyone he’s come into contact with. It