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Damian Lillard on Not Requesting Trade: 'I'm Not Willing to Sell Myself Out'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2019

Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard spoke Tuesday about why he continues to be loyal to the only NBA franchise he has ever known.

In an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lillard stressed how badly he wants to win a championship but also suggested he won't abandon his values and beliefs in order to do so:

Yahoo Sports NBA @YahooSportsNBA

"I'm not willing to sell myself out for (championships)" @Dame_Lillard on why he hasn't left Portland. The @Trailblazers All-Star joined @ChrisBHaynes on the latest episode of Posted Up... You DO NOT want to miss this! ➡️https://t.co/Kq6uHbx3hS https://t.co/MxHIqF3vmp

"It's almost like I'm not willing to sell myself out for [winning a championship]," Lillard said.

The 28-year-old Lillard is a four-time All-Star who has developed into one of the NBA's top guards during his career. He averages 23.5 points, 6.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game over seven NBA seasons, and he has led Portland to the playoffs five times.

Lillard is playing in the era of the superteam, however, and the Blazers have been unable to come anywhere close to matching the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.

Players like Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins have opted to join the Warriors dynasty rather than attempting to beat it, but Lillard doesn't subscribe to that theory.

In the interview with Haynes, Lillard discussed how much he values the notion of people looking back when his career is over and respecting the way he did things:

"When my career is over and I'm gonna know the relationships that I'm gonna have. I am going to know the people who knew I was solid with them regardless of if I was at the top or if I control it. All of this stuff. That I did it the right way and I took people's situations and their families and what could be into consideration before I just made a decision based off, 'All right, this is what would be best for me. This is what people want to see me do.'"

While the Blazers haven't gotten past the second round of the playoffs during Lillard's tenure, they may finally have a team capable of doing precisely that.

In addition to Lillard and fellow scoring guard C.J. McCollum leading the way, center Jusuf Nurkic is much improved, youngsters Jake Layman and Zach Collins are coming into their own, and the acquisitions of Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter could pay dividends.

Portland is fourth in the Western Conference at 34-23, and after beating the Warriors prior to the All-Star break, it can be argued that no team in the West is better equipped to hang with Golden State than the Blazers.

Regardless of whether that happens, Lillard is under contract for two more seasons beyond 2018-19, and his comments suggest he is going to honor that deal.

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