Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard wants kids to learn more than just basketball in his camp. Besides skills, he aspires them to have the characteristics needed to navigate their professional careers and even adulthood in general.
On Friday while speaking on his Formula Zero camp–which hosts some collegiate and high school basketball players–Lillard criticized the current set-up of the youth basketball system and how pampering the younger basketball players today get their mentalities “messed up.” He then went to deliver a passionate message on how he wants to make sure these kids are not just going to become great basketball players, but also sharp, mentally ready and tough individuals who are disciplined.
“All these people hanging onto them and kissing they a** and putting them in a position where they feel entitled, and their mentality is messed up a bit about what it's going to be and having to earn stuff and having to work and taking criticism and listening and being coachable and stuff like that,” Lillard said, per Brenna Greene of KOIN News.
The Blazers guard added that as someone who has went through everything, including the challenges in the professional setting, being talented is not enough most of the time. A lot of great individuals have wasted their talents because they were not ready for the pros, so Lillard wants to change that and make sure his campers get what they also need beyond just basketball.
“It puts them in a position to where those things, it lets them down when they get to a professional environment and they talent can't get them though. You got to be stable and strong mentally. You got to be sturdy. You got to have something that you can stand on because it gets tough. … I want to help these kids, they got all these followers on Instagram, but I wanna help them have the stuff that is not just a talent.”
Damian Lillard had a lot to say today regarding the current culture around young basketball players and yes men.
He says his Formula Zero Camp is about teaching kids how to have the characteristics beyond talent in order to survive and stick in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/8WfiacLqwg
— Brenna Greene (@BrennaGreene_) August 5, 2022
Damian Lillard makes a great point. With more and more young players entering the professional setting as well–considering the overseas option and the G League–it more important now than ever to have such necessary skills and characteristics addressed.
Fortunately for the young guns today, Dame is clearly passionate about what he's doing. If anything, he looks ready to make that impact on youth basketball and be a catalyst for some change.