One of the most polarizing issues in the NBA today is how superstars are handling public grievances with their present teams and joining up to create so-called "superteams." The obvious example is the Pelicans' Anthony Davis, but he's far from the only star player to want out from his current squad. It's gotten to a point where even that he'd prefer players kept their preference to move quiet.
The Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard has been with the team since he was drafted in 2012, and he's been a four-time All-Star since then. The Blazers, however, haven't hit their peak, having failed to make it out of the second round in their past five seasons. Lillard doesn't let it get to him, and as he told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, he has other things he wants to focus on.
"I'm not willing to sell myself out for (championships)"@Dame_Lillard on why he hasn't left Portland.— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) February 19, 2019
The @Trailblazers All-Star joined @ChrisBHaynes on the latest episode of Posted Up... You DO NOT want to miss this!
"It will affect a lot of other people," Lillard said of requesting trades, per Yahoo. "Like I'm saying, I do want to win a championship but there's other stuff that means more to me. It's almost like I'm not willing to sell myself out for that instead of impacting this."
Lillard also mentioned his relationships in Portland, saying that "I want to win a championship, I compete to win a championship, but I've learned that it's about so many other things. I think a lot of people tell you just because you go out and win a championship ... And then they look back and they're like 'man, this happened because of that, this happened because of that.' When my career is over and I know the relationships that I'm gonna have, I'm going to know the people who knew I was solid with them ... That I did it the right way."
The obvious name that comes to mind when you talk about "the right way" of winning championships is Kevin Durant, who left the Thunder to join the Warriors. Durant and the Warriors have won the NBA Finals in the past two seasons, and Durant was the MVP in both of those years. While he didn't request a trade and joined the Warriors in free agency, Durant has been met with scoff ever since joining Golden State by other NBA fans, whether it's fair or not.
Lillard and C.J. McCollum form one of basketball's most formidable backcourts, and Lillard has been his usual consistent self this season. He's averaging 26.3 points per game, 6.4 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game; all of which are about in line with his career totals. The Blazers are 34-23, fourth in the West, and they're looking to get over the hump.
Lillard has been the focal point of Portland since he's arrived, and he seems to be on a bit of an island as far as stars go. By the way he talks, he doesn't want to have it any other way.