Damian Lillard's Perspective Has Shifted: 'I'm a Believer. I'm Optimistic'
After a rough preseason, Lillard still believes the Blazers are on the right track.
A few weeks ago on media day, Damian Lillard was the only person—player, coach or executive—who used the C-word. While Joe Cronin, Chauncey Billups and other players soft-pedaled expectations for the Trail Blazers' season and emphasized building a culture and identifying the players worth building around, Lillard spoke openly about wanting to win a championship.
That's been Lillard's goal his entire career. He still feels the Blazers are on the right track, or else he wouldn't have signed the extension he signed in July. What's shifted for Lillard is the year-to-year urgency that this has to be the season where it happens. And not in the way you think.
With Lillard turning 32 over the summer, time is running out for the Blazers to win it all while he's playing at the level he has over the past decade. But after missing most of last season recovering from a core muscle surgery, his first real break from basketball in years, he's finally accepted that these things can take time and not happen in a linear way.
"I think my perspective has just changed, just from taking a step back and not playing for so long, watching and having time away," Lillard said Thursday after the Blazers' first practice since completing an underwhelming 1-4 preseason showing. "I didn't come into the season saying, 'Oh, we're gonna win a championship. We have to win a championship.'"
What would happen, Lillard was then asked, if the Blazers finished this season in the play-in range, as most people project them to? Would he view that as a disappointment?