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Damian Lillard is upset about the portrayal of his loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers - “People make a joke out of it”

Lillard's loyalty to Portland is commendable, but unless something drastic happens, it's going to be very difficult for him to lead the Trail Blazers to a title anytime soon
Damian Lillard is upset about the portrayal of his loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers - “People make a joke out of it”

Damian Lillard

Over the past few seasons, Damian Lillard’s status with the Portland Trail Blazers had been filled with doubt. The Trail Blazers were struggling to field championship contenders around Lillard, and he publicly voiced his displeasure with the team. Then he missed most of the 2021-22 season and saw his longtime backcourt partner CJ McCollum get traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. Rather than force a move of his own, Lillard signed a two-year, $122 million extension with Portland this offseason.

Lillard makes it clear he wants to win with the Blazers

Despite their recent struggles, Lillard has remained steadfast in his desire to win a title with the Trail Blazers. He’s now committed to Portland through the 2026-27 season (his extension doesn’t kick in until the 2025-26 season), meaning that Lillard will likely spend the remainder of his career with the Trail Blazers.

Lillard’s loyalty to one team is commendable, but some people question his desire to win a championship if he is sticking around in Portland. The Trail Blazers aren’t horrible, but they aren’t exactly a title contender in the Western Conference. Some fans have accused Lillard of chasing money rather than chasing rings. Lillard disputes that claim, though, saying that he wouldn’t feel as much joy winning a title with another team, which is why he has committed himself to Portland for the time being.

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“People make a joke out of it sometimes, like, ‘Man, he’s too loyal, he don’t want to win, he just want his money. I don’t take nothing away from those guys. I think a lot of times because of my stance on it, people try to put my stance on it as if I’m belittling or I’m saying something bad about the guys that do move. And I’m not. I’m just standing on my square about what I believe. They can do whatever they want; if that’s what makes them happy, then do it. I want to win as a Trail Blazer. I want to win a championship where I am. I don’t think I would feel the same joy and happiness if I did it elsewhere. I would be happy, no doubt. Like winning a chip, you get that experience. But I know how I want it.” - Damian Lillard, The Ringer

Can Lillard win a championship with the Blazers?

Lillard is already a legend in Portland, but this stance has only furthered his standing as one of the most popular figures in the city. Lillard could have followed in the footsteps of some of the other big-name stars in the league and tried to join a contender in search of a ring, but that isn’t who Lillard is. He has built something with the Trail Blazers and wants to see it lead to a title.

The problem is that the likelihood of that happening is low. Lillard is returning after missing most of the previous season and no longer has McCollum alongside him to help out. Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons should help, but the Trail Blazers have too many holes on their roster to be a true title contender.

It will require a lot of work and more consistently excellent outings from Lillard for the Trail Blazers to win a title. It may not seem likely right now, but anything can happen in the NBA. Maybe Lillard’s loyalty will pay dividends in the future, but as of right now, it seems like the odds are stacked against him.

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