In today’s day and age, it is incredibly rare for a star athlete to remain with the same team for his or her entire career.
While it used to be seen as a major accomplishment to stay and win with one team for an entire career, it is now incredibly common for stars to seek out new teams in the hopes that moving will improve their chances of winning a title.
That isn’t the case for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Lillard has stated in the past that he has no desire to switch teams, and he reasserted that during a recent podcast interview.
“Yes, I do,” he said of his plan to remain a Blazers player for his entire career. “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 do to that.’ 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 gonna always do what I feel like is in my best interest and that I really feel in my heart. I’ve said this on many different occasions, they call it ‘He’s being loyal!’ and ‘Loyalty this, loyalty that’ and I’m like, I’m naturally a loyal person but I do have a level of loyalty to the organization, but this loyalty that they’re talking about is ultimately to who I am as a person. I’m being loyal to who I am and not getting beside myself because I’m somebody that, I believe what I believe. I think I can get it done. Now, everybody else might say, ‘There’s no way the Blazers will ever win. They need to do this, they need to do that.’ But that’s just not how I feel about the situation. I feel like we’ll have a chance to win, I feel like that moment is going to come, I feel like that opportunity is going to come. And that’s that.”
It’s a very rare opinion to hold these days, and while it is admirable, it is also starting to become increasingly likely that Lillard will play out his entire career without reaching the mountaintop.
The Blazers have been quite good through the years with Lillard at the helm, but the team has now entered a somewhat difficult period. Last season, they were one of the worst teams in the league with a record of 27-55.
Only two teams were below the Blazers in the Western Conference, and both teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, are in the early stages of complete rebuilds.
Going forward, it is unclear if the Blazers will be very relevant. A lot of teams in the West have gotten better while the Blazers have struggled to keep up.
They have some exciting and talented players such as Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic to play alongside Lillard, but it would not be that shocking if the Blazers improved just incrementally this season.
If the Blazers do get back on the right track in the upcoming season, it will likely be because of Lillard’s health. Last season, he only played in 29 games and averaged 24.0 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Hopefully, he will be able to stay healthy in the 2022-23 season and give the team that he is so loyal to many more great moments on the court.