Let’s simply begin out with this, proper from the highest, and proper from the person’s mouth: Damian Lillard, on Friday, as soon as once more mentioned he desires to remain in Portland.

Doesn’t matter if the Blazers begin this season shedding extra video games than they win. Doesn’t matter in the event that they battle to make the playoffs. Doesn’t matter if one other famous person lobbies for his companies.

“Everybody is saying what they think I’m thinking, and what they think I’m going to do, but like, I’m not leaving Portland, you know?” Lillard mentioned.

It was a fair stronger affirmation of his loyalty to the Trail Blazers than the one he made on media day when he vowed that he would “go out on his shield” attempting to deliver a title to Portland.

But by no means earlier than has he revealed precisely why his thoughts and his coronary heart have returned to Portland after a tumultuous summer time when he thought-about ideas of uprooting from Portland.

The fundamental purpose? New coach Chauncey Billups.

Lillard advised The Athletic {that a} sequence of conversations with Billups over the summer time helped middle his ideas again to Portland and what may occur if he stayed.

Those conversations — Billups mentioned it was 5 or 6, a few of them in individual, some on the telephone — handled basketball philosophy, methods and ideas. But in addition they concerned subjects that penetrated to Lillard’s core. They talked about household, life after basketball, and the qualities present in a winner.

Lillard left the conversations impressed, inspired and enamored.



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