J.R. Smith calls out Damian Lillard for choosing loyalty over rings: ‘You just gonna rot in Portland bro?’

Jonathan Sherman
2 Min Read
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

In an era in of NBA that has been practically defined by star players switching teams in the pursuit of winning titles, one star who has remained fully loyal to the organization that drafted him is guard Damian Lillard.

In fact, earlier this offseason, Lillard agreed to a two-year extension with the Portland Trail Blazers despite the fact that they finished last season as the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference.

Though Lillard has been applauded by some for his loyalty, others have criticized it. Most recently, former NBA guard J.R. Smith chastised Lillard for his lack of desire to win a title.

“That’s how I feel about Dame,” Smith said after fellow former NBA player Gilbert Arenas discussed the conflict between chasing rings and remaining loyal. “I love Dame. I love his game. I respect him for doing what he’s doing. But at the same time, it’s like, ‘You just gonna rot in Portland, bro?'”

Smith played for a number of franchises during his NBA career. Though he was never known for chasing championships, he was lucky enough to win a title with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.

Surely, that fact gives him a bit of authority when it comes to the value of winning a title in the NBA.

As for Arenas, he was a three-time All-Star in his 11-year career. However, he only went to the playoffs five times, and he only got past the first round once. Surely, he would have loved to win a title during his NBA career.

Finally, when it comes to Lillard, it is growing increasingly likely that he will end up playing the entirety of his NBA career with the Blazers. Whether or not the franchise is able to build a viable title contender around Lillard remains to be seen.

However, given the current makeup of the West, that seems somewhat unlikely.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.