It’s been over two years since Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and Pelicans backup point guard Tim Frazier were teammates in Portland, but it’s clear that their friendship is still intact.
To an average NBA fan, they may not know the relationship that Lillard and Frazier have, because of their battles on the court. In fact, often times it looks as though the two don’t even like each other.
In the Blazers, 132-119 victory over the Pelicans on Thursday night, where Frazier got the start due to an Elfrid Payton injury, it was obvious from the tip, that this matchup of Lillard vs. Frazier was going to be an entertaining battle to watch.
“It was a great competitive matchup for us tonight,” Frazier said.
With just under two minutes into the game, Lillard pulled up for what fans and media now like to call a “Logo Lillard" three-pointer, a nearly 35-footer.
Lillard popped that deep three over Frazier.
So the question is, does Frazier get a little more hyped about defending his old friend? Oh yes, Lillard has no doubt it.
“He do for sure. It’s like when we workout in the summer. It was no different- like today… The first three I made, he was like, ‘hell no’ and I was like ‘hell yeah’ and it went in,” Lillard said with a smile.
But Frazier made sure to return the favor not even a minute later in the first quarter.
“He caught the ball and I kind of looked at him and didn’t even go out there and I was like, ‘hell no’ and he was like ‘hell yeah” and he made it so I was like, oh god here we go,” Lillard said.
There wasn’t an on-court scuffle like we’ve seen in the past from Lillard and Fraizer, but there was a moment in the second half where Frazier was on the fastbreak and got tripped up. That was a possession that Lillard will be talking to his old pal about.
“...our feet got tangled up and he fell and he was telling the ref I tripped him and I tried to help him up and he just ignored me. I was like whatever man, we’ll talk after the game about this one,” Lillard said laughing.
So, how can best friends go at each other that much? It’s almost like a brother vs. brother competition or at least that’s how Frazier looks at it.
“That’s my brother so, it’s like that brotherly rivalry. So right now he’s 1-0, so I’ve got to hear that until we play again. So, that’s basically what I try to take it as, you know, I know the history of these guys last year too, in the playoffs as well,” Frazier said.
It was in March of 2015 when Frazier signed with Portland as a free agent.
Whether it was at practice or before and after games, you could see the connection between Lillard and Frazier when they were teammates. It was clear they could make each other laugh if ever watched “The Tim Frazier Chronicles” on Lillard’s Instagram page.
To this day, the friendship between Lillard and Frazier off the court is something that most people wish they could find in a best friend.
“That’s my boy. When he was here we got real close. Then in the summer we basically spent, after I think that was my third year he was on our team, we were together everyday. I was at his house. He was at my house. That summer we went everywhere together. We literally spent probably 90% of that summer together and then the next summer it was the same thing and this past summer we was doing the same thing,” Lillard said.
The Blazers waived Frazier in February of 2016. Frazier posted averages of 1.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 8.5 minutes in parts of two seasons with the Trail Blazers.
Frazier has now played for the Pelicans, the Wizards, the Bucks and now back with New Orleans. With four teams in three seasons, Frazier and Lillard have realized the value of their relationship after dealing with the business side that sometimes your best friend gets waived or traded.
“It goes from being like one of your teammates that you’re tight with or somebody in the NBA that you’re tight with to one of your real like best friends in your life and I think that’s just what it is,” Lillard said.
“Throughout the summer we spent a lot of time together. We train together throughout the summer, but during the year, man, it’s texting, phone calls, you know what I mean, if stuff happens… Sometimes during games, I’ll hit him after my game and be like ‘did you see it’ and he’ll do the same,” Frazier said.
Wearing his Damian Lillard ‘Dame 4s’, Frazier supports his former teammate and best friend, but he also knows just how much he has learned and can still learn from Lillard and CJ McCollum.
“My first stop was here and they helped me out tremendously has far as it comes on my game and just being able to shoot, you know, workout with those guys for that time I was here. They’ve definitely contributed a lot to my game, they’ve been helpful a lot,” Frazier said.
Not only do Frazier and Lillard talk constantly throughout the season and still hang out during the summer months, but there’s so much of Lillard’s game that Frazier admires.
“He’s work ethic, I mean, he’s really a top player in this league without a doubt and you saw it tonight. He’s able to take over games and make tough shots when the team needs him and he’s very unselfish. All around the board, he’s one of the top players… You try to get us much as you can from that, but at the same time I can’t wait to see him again,” Frazier said.
Mark you calendars for January 18th in Portland. It’s the next time Frazier will get his chance to even up the brotherly score.