BEAVERTON -- With basketball drills in full swing, one excited camper yelled out, ‘he’s right there,’ as Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard walked through the gym high-fiving the campers on Tuesday afternoon.
This week marks the second session of Lillard’s annual basketball camp held at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA.
With two camps each a week long; Lillard’s camp focuses on teaching the over 300 boys and girls between the ages 6 to 16 the basics of game action as well as life skills off the court.
“Obviously you want them to have fun,” Lillard told the media during his camp on Tuesday. “Learn some things on the court, learn some moves, get comfortable doing certain things, just foundation type basketball, but the most important thing is the lessons that we try to teach them with each camp coach -- learning to follow instructions, learning to be able to execute what somebody’s telling you, just take the direction and instill those things in them.”
During Lillard’s camp, he provides hands-on instruction daily, while all hoopers will have the chance to get a picture and autograph to take home.
Lillard wants each camper to, “meet a new friend,” and learn how to “treat people the right way, be kind, just stuff like that, that they can take back to school and they can take home.”
Lillard’s annual camp has been held at the Beaverton Hoop since 2015 with previous camps held at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Through the years, the annual camp has continued to grow.
“The first year I did it was kind of just on the fly,” Lillard said. “We didn’t know how many kids would show up… We didn’t know what we wanted to do, what direction we wanted to go in. Each year we’ve added things… The camp coaches went from coaches who wanted to work a camp to people who had college experience playing.”
Despite the camp running from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, Lillard is still finding time to get his workouts in early.
The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday. As he gets older, he has realized that it is a necessity to change up his offseason workout plan.
“Work smarter, not harder,” Lillard said. “I always try to just go, go, go. I workout two times [a day] and then I’ll be ready to do more stuff because I always tell myself you’ve got to put your body through it, you’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to do all these things, but what I’ve learned so far this summer is that I trained for like two weeks, I was doing a bunch of conditioning and I was on the court a lot and then I was in Mexico for five days, then I came to Vegas and then I went to LA to do some stuff. Then it was 10 days and I hadn’t trained at all, then last Monday I started working out again here and I felt great.”
“I was like I need to start giving myself a break more often than I do because I felt better after 10 days of nothing and hanging out with all of my cousins and stuff, I felt better. So, I think that’s the thing that I’m picking up more now. The older I get, the rest I need to give my body and I actually felt better when I did it,” Lillard added.
With Lillard gearing up for his eighth NBA season, he is making sure to “treat his body right,” but he also anticipating this upcoming season more than those in the past.
“I think probably [there’s] more anticipation now than probably any other time... Probably after my rookie year when we had a solid year and the next year we knew were going to be good, I was really excited… We ended up having a good season and then after everybody left, coming back with the new group, I was excited. But this year, it’s even bigger changes it seems like, we’re pretty much bringing in a whole new team… I’m excited to see what it’s going to be,” Lillard said.
Lillard is just like everyone in Rip City -- excited to see what’s going to happen this season.