“I play for the Blazers… I want to win as a Trail Blazer” – Damian Lillard reveals LeBron James wanted him to join the Lakers, says winning a championship in Portland will mean everything to him

Orlando Magic v Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard wants to win in Portland. It's something that the six-time All-Star has reaffirmed time and time again in recent years. Although Lillard was forced to miss most of last season with an abdominal injury that required surgery, he's focused on winning in Portland once again.

As the team spiraled and missed the playoffs in his absence, many wondered whether Lillard would be traded like teammate CJ McCollum was last season. With talk of the LA Lakers seeking a trade for Russell Westbrook, speculation over whether Lillard could be LA-bound arose. Although the Blazers said that they wanted to continue building around Lillard, many weren't sure.

During a recent interview with The Ringer, Lillard recalled the uncertain times. At one point, he even found himself being recruited to the Lakers by LeBron James. Ultimately, Lillard realized that after 10 seasons, nothing would compare to the joy of winning with the Trail Blazers:

“I want to win as a Trail Blazer. I want to win a championship where I am. I don’t think I would feel the same joy and happiness if I did it elsewhere. I would be happy, no doubt. Like winning a chip, you get that experience.”

This sentiment is one that is consistent with the Lillard many fans and players have grown to love. A rare breed in today's NBA, Lillard has never faltered in his desire to ultimately win a championship for the city of Portland.

However, the team will need to find a way to consistently break through in the playoffs after being eliminated in the first round time and time again. Outside of the trip to the Western Conference finals in 2019, the team has had plenty of struggles. Lillard has experienced five first-round exits and has been stopped in the semifinals in five games on two occasions.

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers going forward

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers

With a healthy Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers could find themselves back in playoff contention this season after sputtering in his absence. Although a healthy Lillard should undoubtedly have a major impact, the superstar won't have his right-hand man, CJ McCollum. However, the team will have the help of No. 7 pick Shaedon Sharpe.

Sharpe was a consensus five-star recruit who could provide a much-needed scoring boost. Although Sharpe scored a whopping 27 in one preseason game, there's a lot of uncertainty in Portland. With the team lacking the experience of the 2015-16 Most Improved Player (McCollumn), how things will play out if the team makes it to the playoffs is anybody's guess.

With just days to go until Lillard returns to the floor, how do you see things playing out in Portland this season? Will Lillard be able to provide a much-needed boost on his own, or will McCollum's absence be a sore spot? Give us your predictions in the comments section below.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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