Damian Lillard: ‘I’m never joining a team of stars’

On the latest episode of The Jim Rome Podcast, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he had no problem with Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent in 2016. Just don’t expect the two-time All-Star to do the same thing.

“I’m never joining a team of stars,” Lillard said. “Especially ones that won a championship and eliminated me. I just couldn’t see myself doing it. I would want to beat them.”

As dedicated as Lillard is to try and run down the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the 27-year old also has plenty of interests and opinions outside the gym. They include hip-hop, with Lillard dropping his second album this week under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A. And in today’s world, where there’s a certain “stick to sports” crowd that doesn’t want to hear what athletes have to say on anything but their particular sport, Lillard takes offense to the entire idea.

“Who is anybody to tell us we are lucky to be where we are?” Lillard said. “We earn this. Millions and millions of people as children, they want to be NBA players, they want to be in the NFL, they want to be in the Major Leagues and only a certain amount of people actually can get that done. Based off of a lot of hard work, a lot of time spent, a lot of what we have invested in this career. And we get to make it here because the decisions we made and time that we spent. So nobody can take that away from us. We did that.”

The Oakland native takes pride in the hard work that he put in that allowed him to become an All-Star after taking the long road to the NBA after four years at Weber State. And while he understands most people recognize him as a basketball player, he doesn’t think that being great at one thing means you can’t excel in other areas.

“Nobody is telling people to work one job. If somebody has two jobs, they have those two jobs for a reason,” Lillard said. “So the same should go for us. You can’t tell us to only play basketball, don’t worry about anything else. Because our careers may last twelve years, if you’re lucky to be Kobe Bryant twenty years, but some guys get three years on their rookie deal and they’re done. And when it doesn’t work out for them, then what? When you get hurt, then what? It’s unfair, but a lot of the people who say those things are people that are bitter—maybe about their own situation, which is also unfortunate. But we have the right to do whatever we please.”

You can listen to The Jim Rome Podcast on iTunes, or wherever podcasts can be found.

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