Damian Lillard doesn’t seem like the type of guy to hold grudges.
The Trail-Blazers star has no problem clapping back at haters on social media, and has done his fair share of trash-talking with his fellow NBA players. But he has a mature presence about him—like he doesn’t take anything too seriously.
One of the more well-documented beefs Lillard has been involved in started when he hit a 37-foot, sidestep three-point buzzer-beater right in Paul George’s grill to send the Oklahoma City Thunder home in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. After said game winner, George deemed the deep three a “bad shot,” to which Lillard responded on Twitter with a simple “Lol.”
A year later, during the NBA bubble, George and his teammates taunted Lillard after a missed free throw. The taunting continued on social media afterwards:
It seemed as though Lillard and George just flat-out didn’t like each other. But fast forward to last Sunday, after the two played together on Team LeBron in the NBA All-Star game (in which Lillard hit multiple 40-foot threes, including the game-winner), George was apologetic during his postgame interview.
"Well I guess I was criticized for the right reason for calling Dame's shot in the playoffs a bad shot,” George said with a chuckle. “I mean I see this guy's range is crazy...It's a great shot. 2 thumbs up."
It appeared George was ready to let the beef die. And when Lillard was asked by a fan on Twitter what he thought of this mea culpa, he was willing to throw in the towel, too.
“We shook hands,” Lillard said. “As a man I don’t hold on to issues that tightly when it’s not that deep. Life is short.”
Retired players seem to be constantly complaining that players in today’s league are too ‘buddy-buddy’ and that rivalries are dead. But maybe it’s just that players today are mature, and they understand that some things are bigger than basketball.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Clippers and Blazers would be facing off in the first round. The George-Lillard rivalry would have been an interesting subplot heading into that matchup, but fans will have to settle for Lillard’s beef with Patrick Beverley instead (Beverley seems to have a history with everyone). But who knows—maybe Lillard has already forgiven and forgotten that, too.