Damian Lillard Says He's Not Playing If His Team Can't Make The Playoffs - I Get It; But I Don't

Anthony Sain

Yesterday Damian Lillard said that if his Portland Trailblazers team isn't given a real chance to compete in the NBA playoffs that he will not play in any other exhibition style game to get more games played or as a warmup for the playoffs. He wants his team to get a legit shot of competing for a title. As a competitor who also wants to be safe I get it, but as a leader of his team and his franchise - I don't.

Damian Lillard is must-see TV in the playoffs.  Some of his gaming winning shots have been among the best in NBA playoff history.  A prolific scorer with a knack for scoring from anywhere and with great balance, the five-time NBA All-Star has shown that he is capable of doing things on the biggest stage.  

I get it.  Lillard wants his team to have a chance to compete for a title.  He's one of the league's biggest competitors.  The issues that I have with what Lillard is saying are his motives and his lack of competitive spirit.  The Blazers were 29-37 in 66 games before the season was suspended.  If he thinks his team deserves a title shot, what is this based on?  

© Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers are tied for ninth place and 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies.  If you think you're a playoff team - be better than the teams that you say don't deserve to be there.  It's that simple.  Until then, Lillard should do what's best for his team going forward - for seasons to come and as a leader, I feel like saying he won't play and will basically abandon his teammates is not the most ideal thing for a leader to do.  

If it was about safety I'd get it but it's not.  This is a muscle-flex - an attempt to throw his weight around and influence Commissioner Adam Silver's decision.  Lillard is a beast on the basketball court but this stance doesn't vibe with me at all.  He's too good of a player and I flat out think he's going about this the wrong way.

© Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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- Anthony Sain - Memphis Grizzlies Beat Writer and Lead Editor For Sports Illustrated's All Grizzlies.com

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