Damian Lillard makes shocking claim about ‘accidentally’ ending 2x MVP’s career in NBA debut: “I actually like kneed him”

Damian Lillard says he was responsible for Steve Nash
Damian Lillard says he was responsible for Steve Nash's career-altering injury

Damian Lillard may not have a reputation for being a player who deliberately injures opponents and forces them into retirement, but he acknowledged that he was responsible for the injury that ultimately led Steve Nash to retire.

On the "BackOnFIGG" podcast, Lillard remembered colliding knees with Nash in the opening game of Portland's 2012 season.

"Opening night when we played the Lakers ... When (Steve Nash) ended his career with his leg injury, me and him ran into each other," Lillard said. "I actually, like, kneed him on accident, just a collision, and that's what ended his career.”

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Nash joined the Lakers in 2012 and collided knees with Lillard, then a rookie for the Portland Trail Blazers, two games into the season. He was diagnosed with a fracture in his left leg.

“It was an accident though,” Lillard said. “We ran into each other, and I accidentally kneed him and ... I was like, 'Damn.'"

Lillard went on to win Rookie of the Year that season.

“I feel bad, bruh. But I think it ended up being a nerve thing where I kneed him,” he said.

After clashing knees with Lillard, the two-time MVP managed to play 63 more games for the Lakers throughout two seasons. However, despite his efforts, he never fully recovered.

In the 2013-14 season, Nash had to exit a game due to nerve irritation in the same leg. He was only able to appear in 15 games for the Lakers that season before deciding to retire.

During a conversation with Bill Simmons in 2019, the eight-time All-Star disclosed that he suffered a "tib-fib" fracture, which involves the joint of the tibia and fibula in his knee. He said that he has not fully recovered from this injury and still experiences its lingering effects.

“Honestly, since that break, my body’s different just the way it responds to everything. ... I wasn’t quite the same (and) wasn’t moving great forever more,” he said.

Damian Lillard to the Bulls?

NBA writer Kyle Neubeck has reported that the Chicago Bulls have indicated their interest in becoming part of the chase for Lillard.

Last season, Chicago ranked at the league's lowest in terms of average 3-point attempts, managing just 28.9 per game. They were the sole franchise unable to exceed the 30-attempt mark.

Obtaining Lillard could assist the team in resolving an existing concern and introduce star quality to an already formidable combination of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

Lillard posted a career-best average of 32.2 points per game last season, shooting impressive percentages of 46.3% from the field, 37.1% from beyond the arc and 91.4% from the free-throw line.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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