Portland Trailblazer and former Weber State point guard Damian Lillard is not happy with the state of the NBA.
He said as much to former player and current ESPN analyst J.J. Redick during a recent episode of “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, expressing his displeasure with the league’s ring-chasing culture.
“The NBA I play in now is not the NBA I came into,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated.
The state of the league could play a factor in how long Lillard decides to continue playing, he added.
“I think about it all the time that I don’t know if I can play a long, long time because I don’t enjoy what the NBA as a whole is becoming,” he said.
Lillard said he expected the league to evolve but not in the way that it has. Today’s version of the NBA downplays the importance of the regular season, he said.
“But I feel like I play for the love of the game,” he said. “I want the competition. I want to know what it feels like to win. I want to see my teammates do well. I want to see my teammates get paid. I enjoy the bonding part of it. We spend more time with each other than anybody. But now that don’t count. Regular season doesn’t count. ‘Get a ring. This guy’s the MVP. This guy did this.’ What is this?”
Lillard thinks more emphasis should be placed on the journey to winning a championship, rather than on the end result.
“I understand that we play to win championships, and we all want to win a championship,” he said. “But we can’t keep acting like nothing matters, like the journey doesn’t matter. We can’t keep doing that.”
This isn’t the first time Lillard has criticized “super teams.” In 2019, he told Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report that he didn’t want to join one to improve his chances of winning the NBA Finals.
“I don’t feel like I need to prove to anybody how bad I wanna win it ‘cause it shows in my work,” he said. “It shows in my approach to the game. I’m not gonna go and try to team up with top players in the league ‘cause I know that’ll make the chances better because that’s not who I am.”
During a guest appearance on the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” podcast in 2021, he reiterated his stance.
“I would never do that,” he said, according to NBC Sports. “I mean I don’t control — if the team decides to trade me somewhere, I can’t control that, but it ain’t for me.”