“Dame has a 1990s spirit” – Portland head coach Chauncey Billups compliments star point guard Damian Lillard’s mentality

Damian Lillard was a gold medalist with Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics
Damian Lillard was a gold medalist with Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

It looks like Damian Lillard and new Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups are going to get along just fine. Billups, a five-time All-Star, 2004 NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons and a three-time All-NBA member, was the latest guest on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast, The Woj Pod, where he said that, “Dame, he has kind of an old soul, even though this is 2021. I feel like he has a 1990s spirt, an ’80s spirt. He sees the game like the generation I played the game in.”

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups on his summer of conversations with star Damian Lillard. Full audio on The Woj Pod:

Billups took over as head coach of the Trail Blazers in the 2021 offseason after Terry Stotts, who had manned the sidelines at Portland for nine years, was fired from the job in early June 2021. Although Billups is a decorated NBA player, he has no previous head coaching experience at the NBA level. He was an assistant coach, however, on Tyronn Lue’s staff at the LA Clippers last season. Speaking to Wojnarowski, Billups said he felt grateful to have landed his first head coaching gig with Damian Lillard as his star player. He said,

“I’m just so lucky and thankful. This is a dream job for me. And here’s why I say that. Yeah, it’s coaching in the NBA. There are only 30 of them. But what I mean is as a guy who was a former player, who played the game the way that I played the game, you know how I feel about point guards, to be able to come into the league, it’s your first job with Damian Lillard, who I think is the best point guard in the league, to be able to coach a guy like that, my first time around – I mean I hit the powerball to have an opportunity like that. So this is a dream situation for me to be in.”
Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups on The Woj Pod:

But Billups didn’t make it only about Lillard. He also gave a shoutout to the other talent on the Trail Blazers’ roster.

“It’s not only about Dame. You look around man, just the backcourt – he [Lillard] and CJ [McCollum] – really, really dangerous backcourt. Nurk [Jusuf Nurkic] – there’s just so much talent on this team. An opportunity to get Norman [Powell] back. And RoCo [Robert Covington] being a guy that can kind of do it all. I’m just happy man. I’m really, really lucky and grateful.

Damian Lillard will be at the center of focus this season in Portland

Although Damian Lillard is under contract until 2024-25 with the Portland Trail Blazers, he has expressed his frustration after the franchise suffered yet another first-round exit in the 2021 playoffs, their fourth first-round exit in five NBA postseasons. Following the first-round defeat against Denver, there were strong rumors that Lillard wanted out of Portland. After a Team USA practice in Tokyo, Lillard was himself quoted as saying, “I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be.”

However, Lillard eventually mellowed down. He said during a live social media interaction in August that he won’t leave Portland for the time being. That comment allays some fears of the six-time All-Star leaving Portland, but it also leaves the door open for him to leave the franchise at a future date. But with Billups making all the right noises about Damian Lillard, at least the superstar point guard would feel very much wanted by the franchise with whom he has spent all his nine NBA seasons.

Damian Lillard on leaving PDX:"I'm not leaving PDX not right now at least," Says Lillard. #RipCity #NBA #NBATwitter

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Edited by Arnav

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