Plenty of NBA fans would likely admit that the league is trending in the wrong direction. Damian Lillard, one of the league’s best known stars, seems to think so as well.
The Portland Trail Blazers point guard appeared on an an episode of “The Old Man and the Three” podcast with JJ Reddick and voiced his disgust with how entitled the next generation of NBA talent behaves. He cited his own personal experience when being drafted by Portland in 2012 and also he wishes today’s newcomers would adopt a different mindset.
I played with real vets, and it was a lot of stuff I learned, like being a point guard or how to lead from Mo Williams and Earl Watson and Jared Jeffries. And they didn’t even play, it was just the way they showed me how stuff had be done. I had no choice but to respect the game. I didn’t have – the word I was looking for is entitlement. Like when I came into the league, you had to earn not just what you get from the team or the respect – you had to earn your space on the team.
I think about it all the time where I’m just like, I don’t know if I can just play a long, long time because I don’t enjoy the NBA as a whole is becoming.
The NBA would be wise to listen to this assessment from one of its top 10 players.
He’s 100 percent accurate, and it's not just younger guys. Some veteran players have an air of entitlement Many players think they can demand trades left and right (see Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant), that they can demand bigger contracts because of a semi-decent season, and that they don’t have to work hard for what they get.
Lillard on the other hand, is the opposite. Only Golden State Warriors guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have played for the team that drafted them longer than Lillard, and the Trailblazers floor general has said he wants to retire in Portland as a sign of loyalty.
“I’ve had my share of people saying, ‘Man, you got to get out of there. You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that,’” Lillard said in 2022. “But I’m the type of person that I’m never going to be marching to the beat of nobody else’s drum. I’m going to always do what I feel like is in my best interest and that I really feel in my heart ... I want to win. I want to win in Portland. It would mean something to me to do it here.”
If even half of the players in the NBA adopted the same mindset Lillard did, the league would be selling a much more enjoyable product. That -- and getting rid of the wokeness -- would make me interested in the NBA again.
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