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Damian Lillard has played his entire career in Portland. He was drafted by the Trail Blazers out of Weber State in 2012 and never left.
Nor does he plan to.
Lillard, a seven-time All-Star, has never requested a trade. The 32-year-old guard has never forced his way out of the organization. He has signed two contract extensions to stay where he is.
There is a reason for that. The grass is not always greener!
Lillard has watched how the league has evolved in terms of player movement over the years and doesn’t think that it’s worth leaving his longtime franchise. Other players have done differently, in search of a championship, and failed to find that success.
Lillard used their struggles as a lesson learned, which is a large reason why he continues to stay loyal to the team that drafted him. He recently explained his viewpoint in a conversation with Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
I look at the NBA. I just look at how many guys that had a great thing going and then the outside noise creeps in and, even if it’s just a little bit, has some influence on the decision that they make and then nobody lives with those consequences but them. And then it ends up not working out. You look at somebody like Kevin Garnett. He did it, and it worked out. But he’s an outlier.— Damian Lillard, via ESPN
Specifically, Lillard looks at Russell Westbrook’s fall from grace. Westbrook is a nine-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA scoring champion, three-time NBA assists leader and was the MVP in 2017.
Westbrook has yet to get a ring, despite his best efforts to find the right fit with the right organization.
But then you look at Russell Westbrook. You leave OKC for Houston, then James [Harden] decided he’s leaving, now Russ is traded to D.C., then you get traded from D.C. to the Lakers, now you’re on your fourth team in four years and in your second year on the team, everybody is talking about how they should trade you. Now you’re coming off the bench. This dude is a Hall of Famer, an MVP. It’s an example that the grass isn’t always greener.— Damian Lillard, via ESPN
Westbrook has played for the Thunder, Rockets, Wizards, Lakers and Clippers but has never won an NBA Championship. Lillard has only played for the Trail Blazers and also has never won an NBA Championship.
The dichotomy between their careers, both of which should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame when it is all said and done, exemplifies two different approaches to ring chasing. Lillard would rather stay in one place and play for a team and fanbase that appreciates him as much as he appreciates them instead of bouncing around like Westbrook. Both paths have led to the same result!