'People Don't Like The Truth': Lillard On Speaking For Himself And His Relationship With Fans

by Casey Holdahl
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The following is a Q&A from a one-on-one interview with Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard in Las Vegas on July 13 after Team USA defeated Argentina 81-62 on July 13. The first portion of the Q&A can be found here.

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There’s been a lot of rumors, a lot of unnamed source reports about you and your future, even though you’ve stated that when you have something to say, you’ll say it. So do you at all feel misunderstood? 

Damian Lillard: I haven’t felt misunderstood, I just feel like, for somebody who has said so little, there’s so much out there that’s like "Oh Dame said this" or "Dame feels like this" or "Dame feel like that." It’s like, I don’t have to come out and correct nobody, y’all just making up y’all own. Read this or hearing that and you’re making what you want of it. That’s your opinion and what you gather from what you hear.

But as somebody who has always not been afraid to just say what it is, I don’t understand why it’s so much when I haven’t said shit. I’ll say it! Anything that I’ve had to say, I’ve said directly to Neil. It’s not my duty to fill everybody in on what we’ve talked about. So it’s been like "Oh, Dame said because of the fans he feels like this to the fans" and I’m like, it’s gonna take a lot more than that, you know what I’m saying? Did I feel a way about how people were coming at me? Absolutely. But it was like, it’s a lot of misunderstanding going on as well. Like I said when I did USA, it’s a lot being said but if you ask a lot of these people: Have you actually talked to Dame or did Dame actually say this, I don’t know how many of them would be able to be like "Dame said that."

And it seems like you don’t feel like you should have to correct that stuff.

Damian Lillard: I don’t have to. Anything that I need to correct, I’ll say it right off the rip. I’ll correct it. Nothing has been said that I feel like I need to correct because the people who need to know how I feel and the people that I need to interact with and have exchanges with, I’ve had ‘em.

Do you feel like the fact that you allow your thoughts and feeling to be out there results in that vulnerability sometimes being used against you?

Damian Lillard: I’m very upfront. My thoughts are well known, I say it. Sometimes (it’s used against me) because people don’t like the truth. They don’t like when people are direct. Sometimes it’s like ‘Dame shouldn’t have said that. He’d have been better off not saying nothing.’ So it’s a gift and a curse. Some people gonna love it because they know they’re going to get the real from me and some people gonna be like ‘Why did he have to say that? Now it’s gonna open up this or that.’ But for me, the reason I’m that way is because I’m going to always stand on what’s real and I’m gonna always stand on what is genuine. I’m not gonna say one thing and try to make you believe something else. I’m not gonna do roundabout things. I’m gonna say what it is and whatever happens after that, I’m prepared to deal with it. That’s why I was like, I haven’t said that. If I say something, then alright. But if I haven’t said it, stop talking, stop just making up shit.

Do you feel like maybe everyone just needs to take a minute to chill out?

Damian Lillard: Honestly, they can do whatever they want to do. The business is going to keep going. The season is going to come when it’s time to play again, when it’s time to report, people gonna be reporting, when it’s time for somebody to be drafted, when it’s time for trades to happen, things are going to continue to happen. So at some point, everything that’s gonna happen is gonna happen.

What do you feel like your relationship is with the fans right now? Not what you think they think of you, just what you think?

Damian Lillard: I think our relationship is great. I don’t see why our relationship would be any different than it’s always been. Obviously when we hired Chauncey a lot of things came out and people was like ‘Dame wanted him, this was Dame’s hire’ and it’s like, once again, I know that’s not true. I know that that’s not my job to hire a coach. And I know that I didn’t come out and say ‘I want him to be my coach,’ that wasn’t the process. When I first mentioned him and Jason Kidd, I was asked ‘There’s being names floated out there since Terry got fired, who would you see being your coach?’ I said ‘Of the people I’ve heard, I like Jason Kidd and I like Chauncey Billups.’ That was that, it wasn’t like no deep thought into it or knowing of anything. That was that, but like I said, I would assume our relationship is as it’s always been because I’ve done nothing different than I always do.

“That’s not my job” has almost been a mantra for you throughout your career. Whenever you’re asked about that kind of stuff, you’ve always noted it’s not your job to make those decisions.

Damian Lillard: Exactly, that’s not my job. So it’s not like I’m just trying to shy away from whatever comes with it, and I’ve said that. I’ve always been that way, it’s not my job. My job is to be the best point guard, you know what I’m saying?

How do you think you’re doing in that regard?

Damian Lillard: I think I’m doing great.

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