AUDIO: Damian Lillard Discusses All-Star Voting, Being 'Loyal To A Fault' And Ditching His Vegan Diet

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was recently a guest on ESPN's "The Hoop Collective" podcast with Marc Spears and Chris Haynes. Lillard discussed a range of topics during the interview including voting for All-Star starters, being regularly overlooked, the picnic he puts on every year in his hometown of Oakland, being "loyal to a fault" and his desire to be the "greatest Trail Blazer ever" and why he's no longer sticking to a strict vegan diet. You can listen to the whole interview here or below, though I've also transcribed some of the more interesting segments...

On having his accomplishments downplayed in terms of All-Star worthiness...

Damian Lillard: "I've gotten frustrated just for the fact that it feels like I always got to be the fall guy and every other guy has been deserving. In the past, the thing has been, 'Alright, my team has been 10 games under .500 or not in the playoffs,' but every year we've found a way to be in the postseason, and this year I think we're in much better position than we have been in the past two seasons that I didn't make it. I think I've gotten over the emotional part of it the last few times that I didn't make it. Now I'm kind of like almost expecting it to go that way, but I feel like I should be there."

On getting fewer fan votes than Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball...

Damian Lillard: "That's just what it is. He plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most, if not the most, storied franchises in that big of a market. So, so many people are going to support him throughout that, and also with his dad and all the attention that's been surrounding him since college. There's a lot of people that follow him, so, that's not really a surprise to me. The market size and what's going on with his family, it's no surprise really to me."

On being "loyal to a fault" and whether that costs him, financially and otherwise...

Damian Lillard: "First of all, I'm from Oakland and if my career ended in a couple of years, I made plenty of money. I don't put a dollar sign on what I consider to be success. Of course everybody want to make as much money as possible but I don't look at it and say 'Ah man, I could be making this much money here and I could be doing that.' For me, like you said, being loyal to a fault, maybe I am, but I think in the long run that will take me further having those relationships and being loyal to things that going off and chasing something. Maybe if I go chasing, 'I want to go here, play in this thing, do all this' maybe it don't work out for me. I'm gonna always stick to being me, I'm going to be who I am."

On the idea of playing with one team for his entire career...

Damian Lillard: "That speaks to me, because when you think of the Mavericks, you think of Dirk (Nowitzki). You had a lot of people that came through there, but he's been there. I think what he's meant to that organization is huge. The same thing with Tim Duncan. He represents the Spurs. That's the name that comes up. And for the Trail Blazers, I want to be the best Trail Blazer ever. And when people talk about this franchise, I want them to talk about me. I want to be what people think of first when they talk about the Portland Trail Blazers."

On why he stopped eating strictly vegan...

Damian Lillard: "I was vegan for five months. I did it to lose some weight, make it easier on my feet and my knees, ankles and stuff. I had a few injuries but I was trying to get lighter and also just get healthier, put better stuff in my body. It helped a lot as far as my energy and how I felt. I did it but I started to lose a little bit too much weight with all the games and practices and all of that, so I had to balance it out. So now I've been mixing it up a little bit more, having vegan meals still but I'm mixing it up with other stuff."