Warriors

Oakland's Damian Lillard sounds off on Warriors' move to Chase Center

Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard told reporters all you need to know about him seven hours before his latest matchup against the Warriors.  

"I'm from Oakland," Lillard said Monday afternoon.

However, everything Lillard knew about his former hometown team no longer exists.

In the last four months, the Warriors moved from Oakland Arena -- minutes from his native Brookfield Village in East Oakland -- across the Bay Bridge, down along the clustered shores of San Francisco's Mission Bay at Chase Center, becoming the latest team to leave Oakland for an expensive alternative. It's a fact Lillard is still reconciling. 

"We're opposites," Lillard admitted. "All I'm gonna know is I'm not down the street from the house no more." 

Lillard's latest stop to the Bay Area comes as the Warriors are in transition, looking much different than the squad that swept his Blazers in the Western Conference Finals five months ago.

Since June, Golden State has lost Kevin Durant to free agency, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to long-term injuries, replacing them with an unproven crop of young players more expected to compete for lottery position than a playoff berth next spring. 

"It's just so unexpected," Lillard said. "You don't expect them to go from such a huge deal and a big super team to one guy leaves to injuries. Unfortunate situations and stuff that you hate to see. I think in that way it's just different to see them not as the Warriors right now."

 

As the Warriors find themselves in a state of change, so does the Oakland sports landscape. In the last decade, the Raiders, Warriors and even the A's have flirted with the thought of leaving.

While the A's seemingly have committed to Oakland after failed attempts to move to the South Bay, the Raiders will call Las Vegas home by the New Year and the Warriors -- under new ownership -- quickly made plans to move across the water in 2012. 

"There's a sense of pride in Oakland about everything that represents us and it's like the Warriors go over the bridge," Lillard said. "Raiders going to Vegas, it's almost like the money grab, the money moves is pushing the real love and what's really behind this organization to the side, which is understandable and also not understandable because I'm from Oakland." 

For much of their California existence, the Warriors have played the role of lovable losers with a loyal following. Despite making the postseason just once from 1995 until 2007, the Warriors were known to have one of the loudest environments in basketball at Oakland Arena.

Lillard knows East Bay fandom all too well. He was in the building when Warriors guard Baron Davis dunked over Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko in the second round of the 2007 NBA playoffs -- providing a signature moment for the "We Believe" team. 

These days, Lillard -- despite being 600 miles north in Oregon -- is disappointed in the environment of Golden State's new $2 billion digs. 

"Where's the pride?" Lillard rhetorically asked. "The Raiders, they went 12-4 a few years back and been struggling, struggled like ten years before that and it was still -- the Black Hole is still there -- you still see the Nation in support. Why would you leave that behind? 

"It just rubbed me wrong. I've watched games here and the crowd is just not the same. People leaving games early." 

[RELATED: Warriors select Scottie Lewis at No. 10 in NBA mock draft]

Now Lillard will lead is Blazers into a new reality in his first game in San Francisco. The Blazers are overwhelming favorites to beat the defending Western Conference champs.

Win or lose, Lillard's sentiments on the Warriors' new home are unlikely to change by the end of the night. 

"I don't like it," he said. "If that's what y'all want to know. I don't like it."