NBA superstar Damian Lillard is promising to remain and retire with the Portland Trail Blazers if he has his way. The 2013 Rookie of the Year has spent the first nine years of his career in Rip City. Yet despite the trade rumors that have surrounded him throughout that time — as well as the alleged reluctance of any other big-name players to join him in the Northwest — Lillard is committed to bringing the Blazers their first championship since their lone chip in 1977.
“I’ve had my share of people saying ‘Man, you got to get out of there! You’ve got to do this, you’ve got do to that,’” the 6x All-Star guard said on the Dave Pasch Podcast. “But I’m the type of person that I’m never going to be marching to the beat of nobody else’s drum. I’m gonna always do what I feel like is in my best interest and that I really feel in my heart.”
“I’ve said this on many different occasions, they call it ‘He’s being loyal!’ and ‘Loyalty this, loyalty that,’” he continued, “and I’m like, I’m naturally a loyal person but I do have a level of loyalty to the organization. But this loyalty that they’re talking about is ultimately to who I am as a person. I’m being loyal to who I am and not getting beside myself because I’m somebody that, I believe what I believe.”
This past July, Lillard signed a two-year extension with the Blazers that’ll keep him in The City of Many Roses through the 2026-2027 season. The deal is reportedly worth $225 million and makes him the fourth highest earning player in league history, per Spotrac.
But it’s also been seven years since Lillard has played with another All-Star big man. His longtime running mate CJ McCollum was traded two seasons ago, and Chauncey Billups joined the Blazers last season as a first-year head coach, only raising Lillard’s frustrations with the franchise. In fact, Stephen A. Smith hinted that Lillard was pushing for a trade to the New York Knicks as late as December.
But Lillard’s cooled off a bit since that time. He signed on for at least four more years with the Blazers over the summer. He also engaged in some not-so-subtle recruitment of two pretty impactful players to hopefully join him in Portland, too: Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and 2x NBA champ Kevin Durant.
But whether or not he gets another superstar to the mid-market team, Lillard is betting on himself first. “I think I can get it done,” he told Pasch. “Now, everybody else might say, ‘There’s no way the Blazers will ever win. They need to do this, they need to do that.’ But that’s just not how I feel about the situation. I feel like we’ll have a chance to win, I feel like that moment is going to come…”
But he also made sure to state the following: “As long as I feel that our organization is putting their best foot forward and we’re on the same page about doing everything that we can do to win, then I’m willing to go out swinging.”
Hear Damian Lillard speak at length about his loyalty to the Blazers, completing his fifth album while nursing his season-ending injury, the Las Vegas Raiders, and more by clicking the play button below.