Lessons in leadership: How Damian Lillard is mentoring Jusuf Nurkic

Lessons in leadership: How Damian Lillard is mentoring Jusuf Nurkic

When the Trail Blazers emerged from the halftime locker room last week during a dreadful performance in Sacramento, all but one of the players headed to the court to warm up.

Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s young and promising center, was the only one to avoid the court, instead plopping himself on the bench, his warm-up hoodie snug over his head.

From the court, team captain Damian Lillard took notice, and walked to Nurkic on the bench. It had been a rough half for the Blazers, and an even tougher outing for Nurkic, who at that point had more turnovers than points.

Leaning in, Lillard tousled Nurkic’s hoodie, then took a seat next to him. What would follow is another layer in what is a powerful and unique relationship between two of the team’s pillars.

“I know what it’s like to be young and counted on,’’ Lillard later explained.

The relationship is powerful in how it has impacted Nurkic.

“Damian Lillard,’’ Nurkic said, “is the best thing that has happened to me in my life.’’

And the relationship is unique in that Lillard’s mentorship is coming from an interesting perspective. When Lillard first joined the Blazers, he said he looked to star LaMarcus Aldridge for guidance and support, but was left to figure it out on his own.

It’s why Lillard describes this undertaking with Nurkic as “different” from any of his other endeavors with teammates. This one is deeply personal.

“It’s going to sound crazy,’’ Lillard said, “but it’s almost what I wish I had with LaMarcus.’’

**

The awkward Lillard-Aldridge dynamic has long been rumored and insinuated, but never openly discussed like Lillard did this week.

Lillard says the two never had a problem, and that Aldridge has already heard everything he says in this article. Lillard’s point in bringing up his experience with Aldridge is that it helped shape his approach in how to mentor Nurkic.

“Me and LaMarcus had a good relationship. We never had a single argument. We really got along,’’ Lillard said. “I’m just saying the stuff I want to go out of my way to do for (Nurkic), is the stuff I wish I got from LaMarcus.’’

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Aldridge’s reticence never bothered Lillard; the more he was around Aldridge, the more he understood him as an introvert, who was more comfortable leading by example than through encouragement or inspiration.

But at the same time, Lillard couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like in his early NBA years to have guidance and assurance that he was on the right path.

“I wish it was like more of a brotherhood, more of a line of communication, with me as young player and him as an All-Star,’’ Lillard said.

There was always an unmistakable unease around Aldridge and Lillard, mostly created by Aldridge’s jealousy of the attention and adulation showered upon Lillard by the fanbase and the franchise. Lilllard, who is as perceptive as he is personable, admittedly “walked on eggshells” around Aldridge, acutely aware of the elder’s sensitivity, and in hopes to avoid “stepping on his toes.”

“It wasn’t his personality (to reach out),’’ Lillard said. “But as a younger player, I came into the league wishing … and thinking he was going to take me under his wing, like his lil’ bro.”

One of those times was when Lillard was in his third year. It was the playoffs, in Memphis, and the Trail Blazers guard was struggling mightily against Mike Conley and the vaunted Grizzlies defense.

By that time, still young at 25, he had established himself as a two-time All-Star, a playoff hero, and one of the pillars of the franchise. But in this playoff series, the Grizzlies' pressure, as well as his performance, cause some rumblings inside of himself. Either Aldridge didn't sense it, or he figured Lillard had it covered, but there was no emotional support from Aldridge.

“There were times when I needed it, it just didn’t happen,’’ Lillard said. “It didn’t make me no less of a player. I figured it out. But it would have calmed things in my mind in games.’’

Lillard said in his heart, his confidence never wavered. He believed in himself and he knew he always found ways to succeed, and he figured he would again in that series. Still, he admitted he cast a hopeful eye to Aldridge, looking for assurance, advice, encouragement, an invitation to dinner ... anything. But Aldridge never bit.

“I had confidence in myself, but I wanted (Aldridge) to be like, ‘Man, let’s go eat. You are going to be good. You are going to be an All-Star,’’’ Lillard said. “I wanted him to talk to me like that … but (he didn’t).’’

The Blazers lost that Memphis series, and months later, Aldridge left the Blazers to sign a free agent contract with San Antonio. After Aldridge left, Lillard knew it was his time to lead, and he knew his leadership would be much different than Aldridge’s approach.

So when Nurkic arrived in a trade last February, stinging from his treatment in Denver, and thirsting for affirmation, Lillard saw shades of his younger self.

So he gave Nurkic what that young Lillard wanted. He gave him his attention. His knowledge. His support.

“I just know what it might be like to not have that,’’ Lillard said.

**

That night in Sacramento, when Lillard approached Nurkic at halftime and tousled his head while offering encouragement, didn’t end well for the Blazers or Nurkic. The lowly Kings beat Portland 86-82 while Nurkic scored just four points on 2-for-7 shooting.

But the night wasn’t over with the halftime pep talk, or the final buzzer. 

“I talked to (Lillard) the whole way back on the plane,’’ Nurkic said. “The whole flight.’’

Nurkic said they talked about the Kings game. His early season struggles. What the team was going through, and what Nurkic needed to do moving forward. He said their talk was a blend of encouragement and criticism.

It has been that way from the start, Lillard both embracing Nurkic while also establishing a firm line of accountability.

In their first meeting as teammates after the February trade, Lillard in the locker room provided Nurkic with his cell phone number and a team-wide directive.

“The first thing I remember him saying is: ‘We don’t make excuses here, man,’’’ Nurkic said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I need that.’’’

Nurkic came to Portland with a somewhat sullied reputation as a pouter and malcontent with bouts of laziness. Nurkic said, if anything, he was usually quick to make excuses.

“It’s a bad habit, and habits are hard to change,’’ Nurkic said. “Probably the hardest thing to change in life is habits. If you have a bad one, it can stick with you. After he told me that, I really focused on that.’’

After Nurkic took Portland by storm last spring, and helped vault the Blazers into a late run into the playoffs, he has experienced an uneven start to this season. Some games he looks like one of the NBA’s elite centers, and others he looks unpolished and undisciplined.

Through the ups and downs, Lillard has been able to study Nurkic and know the right buttons to push.

Nurkic says he texts Lillard often, and earlier in the season after a rocky opening trip, Lillard could sense through those messages that Nurkic was experiencing some doubt. Lillard put him at ease, telling him he would make sure he was more involved in the offense. He also told him to stop over-thinking the game.

“He reminded me it’s just a game,’’ Nurkic said. "That it's supposed to be fun.''

The next night, Nurkic played freely and was dominant in a win over the Lakers, finishing with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. After the game, he credited his resurgence to having fun again, and thanked Lillard and CJ McCollum for helping guide him through his lulls.

It has not been all hugs and pats on the back, though.

When Nurkic was forced to the bench just 1:24 into the game after picking up two fouls at home against Memphis, Lillard spit daggers.

Nurkic chuckled at the memory.

“After I got the two quick fouls, he was (lowers his voice to mimic Lillard) ‘Come on Nurk, man. You have to be smarter than this,’’’ Nurkic said. “He comes at me hard. Which is good.’’

Later, in a home game against Brooklyn, a tiring Nurkic blew a defensive assignment, and Lillard snapped at him.

“He started telling me ‘why this, and well that, and he this …,’’ Lillard remembered. “He started coming with excuses and I told him, ‘I ain’t trying to hear that (expletive). Do what you are supposed to do. We depend on you.’’’

And during Monday’s win at Memphis, Lillard stood in the middle of a third-quarter timeout huddle to demonstratively lecture Nurkic, holding up coach Terry Stotts’ address to the team.

Nurkic says he welcomes that type of feedback because he trusts Lillard and knows he has his – and the team’s – best interests at heart.

“There’s no lying. That’s the best part about him,’’ Nurkic said. “He’s straight and he will tell you. For me, that’s like a dream come true. To have a superstar in the league as a leader, a friend and a teammate – all of those ways – it leads me to be a better person, better teammate and better player.’’

**

The first time Lillard and Nurkic met, it was not friendly.

It was last November, at the Moda Center, when Nurkic was with the Nuggets, and the two had a slight dustup on the court.

The two teams had played the week before in Denver, and after Lillard led a late comeback that included the game-winner, he made a passing judgment on what was then Denver’s foreign tandem of big men, Nurkic and Nikola Jokic.

“These two big dudes in Denver,’’ Lillard remembers thinking, “they might be soft a little bit.’’

But on this night in the Moda Center, Nurkic was fouled by Blazers center Mason Plumlee. As Nurkic went to the free throw line, Lillard went to talk to Plumlee, and his path crossed Nurkic. The Bosnian center nudged Lillard, who squared and pushed Nurkic in the chest.

“He bumped me, and I pushed him, and we said something to each other,’’ Lillard said.

The player he thought was soft left an impression.

 “I remember thinking, ‘Ah, this dude … there’s a little something to him,’’’ Lillard said.

Three months later, Nurkic was walking through the Blazers’ locker room doors for the first time. He locked eyes with Lillard and tapped his wrist, aping Lillard’s signature “Dame Time” move.

“I had read what people said about him, that he had a bad attitude … but when we first got him, he was like a big teddy bear,’’ Lillard said.

Soon, he saw how Nurkic played. It was unselfish and skilled. Then he saw how enthusiastic and positive Nurkic was as a teammate, often the first one off the bench to cheer a teammate.

 “After that first game in Utah, I thought ‘if we can get the most out of this guy, we could be pretty good,’’’ Lillard said.

So he watched him. And counseled him. And he noticed signs that reminded him of how he felt as a 23-year-old player. It sparked memories of the void he felt with Aldridge.

“With Nurk, I know how good he is, how good he could be, I know what he means to the team, so I don’t want to let that opportunity slip,’’ Lillard said. “I don’t want him to feel any less important. I don’t want to be like (sucks teeth) ‘he good enough he will figure it out.’

“I want to help him figure it out and let him know I’m a supporter,’’ Lillard said. “If I want the best for this team, I feel like it’s my job to support him, but also hold him accountable.’’

 Nurkic says he not only sees, and hears, Lillard’s leadership, he feels it.

“I definitely feel it. I definitely feel it. I’ve never had somebody like this, somebody like Dame,’’ Nurkic said. “He is there for me, no matter if I’m good or bad. He is an amazing person, and he will make me better.’’

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

The Trail Blazers Fan Fest has become a fun tradition for Rip City to watch the Blazers intra-squad scrimmage and get their first look at the roster.

A fan favorite just might be the Blazers rookies taking center court and dancing in front of their teammates, the coaching staff, and all the Blazers faithful.

The Trail Blazers tweeted out a great throwback video on Friday in honor of the NBA’s Rookie Week.

It’s hard to decide who has the best moves and who has the worst moves, but one thing is certain:

It’s always fun watching a young Damian Lillard, or a young Zach Collins, or a little bit younger Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr strut their stuff.

This year’s Fan Fest is set for Sunday, October 6th.

To help tip-off the Trail Blazers 50th Anniversary Season, this year’s Fan Fest will be held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

You can catch all the action of Fan Fest including the rookie dances on the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest.
Doors will open at 4 p.m. Fans can download their free digital tickets online at trailblazers.com/fanfest.

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard took a quick two-day trip to Sydney, Australia earlier this week as Adidas’ Global Ambassador.

In his limited time in Sydney, Lillard sat down to do an interview with news.com.au to talk Olympics, his music, filming Space Jam 2 and more.

After NBA stars, including Lillard, pulled out of the recent FIBA World Cup this summer, people are now focused on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In his recent interview, Lillard confirmed he does want to play for Team USA for the 2020 Olympics.

“I plan of being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said.

Team USA is one of eight teams that have already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The remaining four teams will earn berths during qualifying tournaments in July.

Lillard now joins Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green who have pledged to represent Team USA already, along with Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

One thing is for sure – it’s a good thing the Olympics weren’t this summer.

Lillard has had busy offseason.

The 29-year-old had been filming alongside LeBron James for Space Jam 2 earlier this summer.

Lillard couldn’t give away any spoilers for Space Jam 2, but he is happy with the end result.

“I think people are really going to enjoy it… I’m proud of it, I can say that,” Lillard said.  

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard also released his third rap album.  

Dame D.O.L.L.A. has continued to make a name for himself in the music industry.

Lillard has always been interested in pursing a rap career.

“When I made it to the NBA I just continued to do it and the platform I have as a player just shined a light on the music and it’s taken off now,” Lillard said.

“It’s real music,” Lillard added while mentioning how he is blessed to have worked with artists such as Lil Wayne.

“It’s pretty cool, I work with Wayne on all my albums. Just having him as a mainstay on all my albums is pretty cool, it’s been a pleasure and an honor because he’s one of the best to ever do it,” Lillard said.

“A lot of mainstream artists can’t get him on, so the fact he does it for me is a blessing.”

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Anthony Lamar Tolliver

BIRTHDAY: June 1st, 1985

AGE: 34

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Tolliver played 4 years of college basketball at Creighton. He was one of four players from his Kickapoo High School team to play Division I basketball.

Fun Facts

Tolliver grew up with six sisters. Yep, Anthony is the only boy of the family. 

Tolliver’s mother was a teacher for 31 years.

While with the Pistons, Tolliver discussed how he spent his NBA money as a rookie:

"I put my first pro paycheck in the bank and let it sit there. During my rookie season the only thing I bought was a Chrysler 300."

Not All About Basketball Nets

For the past few years, Tolliver has pledged to support and help send nets to save lives.

‘Nothing But Nets’ is a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness, funds, and voices to fight malaria.

Both Tolliver and Steve Blake joined the ‘Nothing But Nets’ campaign earlier this year and hope to raise awareness and funds, as well as encourage fans, to help protect refugees and their families from malaria.

Tolliver pledged to donate and help out the ‘Nothing But Nets’ organization back in 2016. He wrote:

“To me, it is inexcusable to accept that depending on the zip code you were born in, or the country you live in, your destiny is already pre-determined by the level of access you have to health care. I serve as a Nothing But Nets ambassador because it shouldn’t matter where you are born — no child should die from a mosquito bite. I know that even with just a little help, I can help kids across the globe with an opportunity to live another day and have another birthday just by sending a bed net and protecting them from malaria.

Imagine that — something as simple as sending a bed net can protect a child from a deadly, but preventable disease.”

All The Love For Portland

Tolliver is happy to be in Rip City:

“Free agency was a bit of a whirlwind. I was really looking for an opportunity to go to a team where I was valued and wanted. They made that very clear. I haven’t had free agency go this quickly in my entire career. But I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to play for a contender and play with guys like Dame and CJ and there are a lot of great players on this team.

“And also, kind of watching the playoffs last year, how they got double-teamed a lot and that’s literally how guys like myself can excel.”

^^^ Tolliver told the media at his introductory press conference.

Wedding Date

In 2011, Tolliver married Jessica Svoboda. They met at Creighton University, during their freshman orientation. The couple has two kids together.

The Proposal

Jonah Ballow, a reporter of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011, sat down with Tolliver for the ‘Wolves Hot Seat.’  Tolliver answered 10 rapid-fire questions, including the biggest change in his life since his proposal to his longtime girlfriend:

“I spent a lot of money,” Tolliver said with a big smile.

Watch the throwback video to hear more from a younger Tolliver:

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

It’s hard to believe the NBA season is just around the corner.

NBA training camp tips off in less than two weeks.

We have seen the various predictions of where teams are expected to land in the Western and Eastern Conference, but what about individual play?

What about the NBA’s top duos?

Bleacher Report ranked the top 10 backcourts, and they put the Trail Blazers duo of point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum at the top.

Greg Swartz, author of the article, had this to say of the star tandem:

"With no Curry and Thompson to look up to (for now), the Trail Blazers backcourt can finally stake its claim as the NBA's best.

Coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Lillard and McCollum combined for 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over just 4.2 total times per game.

In six years together, Portland has never had a losing record, reaching the postseason every time.

Following a 53-win season and the third seed in the West, Lillard almost single-handedly dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise with a now-iconic shot and pose to end the first round, leading to Paul George requesting a move and a subsequent trade of Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.

In their 16 postseason games, both Lillard and McCollum proved why they deserve to be called the NBA's best. Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.7 steals and shot 37.3 percent from deep on nearly 10 attempts per game. McCollum was right behind with 24.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and he drilled 39.3 percent of his three-pointers."

Coming in second on the Bleacher Report list is Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell. (That’ll take some getting used to).

Houston's new backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook came in at No. 3.

Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in Utah ranked No. 4.

Denver's Jamal Murray and Gary Harris round out the Top 5.

Read more here.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Hassan Niam Whiteside

BIRTHDAY: June 13th, 1989

AGE: 30

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Whiteside played college ball at Marshall University, where he was a Conference USA Freshman of the year and Second-team All-Conference USA.

Fun Facts

If Whiteside wasn’t a basketball player, he told the Miami Heat, he would be a NASCAR driver.

Math was his favorite subject in school.

His first big purchase as an NBA player was a 2010 Escalade.

Football Father

Whiteside’s parents are Hasson Arbubakrr and Debbie Whiteside. His father played in the NFL from 1983 to 1984 for the Vikings and the Buccaneers.

Pushing Through Adversity

To say Whiteside has bounced around, and in and out of the league, would be an understatement.

After the Sacramento Kings selected him as the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 draft and later waived him, Whiteside floated through the D-League and overseas.

He made a stop in Lebanon in 2013, but just two games in, his teammates started a fight with the opposing team and the season was canceled. So Whiteside went to the Chinese NBL.

Here’s a quick look at the various teams Whiteside has played for at one time or another:

2012–13    Sioux Falls Skyforce

2013           Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2013           Amchit Club

2013           Sichuan Blue Whales

2013–14   Al Mouttahed Tripoli

2014           Jiangsu Tongxi

2014           Iowa Energy

2014–19   Miami Heat

2014          Sioux Falls Skyforce

Quickly Becoming A Portlander

Just days after the reports came out that Whiteside was signing with the Portland Trail Blazers; Whiteside started giving back to his new community.

In a series of videos shared on Instagram, Whiteside was seen handing out Voodoo doughnuts to people on the streets, while shouting, “Go Portland, Go Blazers! We got shooters!”

"You get some Voodoo Doughnuts. I got like three dozen," Whiteside said. "Giving them out to the city! We giving them out to the city, man. We sharing love, man. More love, man. We don't do the hate, my man. Less hate, man.”

Love For Koi Fish

In an interview with The Ringer back in October of 2018, Whiteside shared more about his personal life.  

A big part of his everyday life is his fishpond. It’s easy to see Whiteside’s love of fish, particularly Koi fish from reading the article.

Here is an excerpt from The Ringer article by Haley O’Shaughnessy:

We’re crouched down in his front yard in Miami Beach, sweating into a pond of 40 koi fish. “Come here, OGs,” Whiteside says, touching the water. Like him, they’re strikingly oversized, a group of orange and black and white koi all longer than my forearm. His Snapchat followers (who he also talks to, several times a day) know them well. “They’re more famous than me, man,” he says, wiping water off on his worn-in brown tank top. Whiteside’s been in Miami since the Heat signed him in November 2014, but his drawl—the kind that acts as a thickening agent for vowels and turns “man” from one syllable to two—comes from Gastonia, North Carolina, his hometown.

All 40 fish have a name. Whiteside names everything: The planter in the backyard (Man of Ultimate Wisdom), the bust made of Canadian pennies in the living room. Every name has an explanation, and every explanation has deeper meaning. Which he shares with me, one by one. (The bust is Penny. Name. Sure, a penny itself is worthless, but thousands of pennies together aren’t, especially the Canadian penny, because it’s discontinued. Explanation. Isn’t that beautiful? And, Whiteside smiles, what’s more beautiful than the human body? Meaning. Deep.)

So yes, to answer my question, the fish are individuals. Together he calls them the OGs. He knows what I’m thinking, but it’s short for Old Guys. “They can live to be 140. Don’t matter how much shit they swim through,” Whiteside explains as we walk the stairs of his all-white waterfront home, “they keep swimming.”

Throwback To A Day In The Life Of Hassan Whiteside

Seven years ago, the Sacramento Kings posted a video to their Youtube page as they followed Whiteside around for a day.

From breakfast to working out at the Kings practice facility to figuring out what goes in his protein shake to taking a tour through his condo to getting a haircut to checking out a fish store for his growing aquarium – it was an all-access look.

Check out Whiteside's routine in Sacramento with this throwback video:

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

The Trail Blazers start their training camp in just a few weeks. That means the NBA season is right around the corner and so is the end of summer. Speaking of "End of Summer," that's the names of the latest freestyle track dropped by Dame D.O.L.L.A, aka Damian Lillard for you basketball fans. 

Earlier this summer D.O.L.L.A released "Big D.O.L.L.A," his third album and the follow-up to 2017's "Confirmed." The track "End of Summer" just adds to a near endless list of impressive lyrical endeavors for the Trail Blazers star point guard. If you haven't heard it, you can listen to it below. 

If social media is to believed (and it is), fans loved D.O.L.L.A.'s latest track:

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little heard the track and only had one question for his new teammate:

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Nassir Shamai Little

BIRTHDAY: February 11th, 2000

AGE: 19

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Aquarius

Before Fame

Little hails from Orange Park, Florida, where he went to Orlando Christian Prep for High School.

Fun Facts

Little’s favorite food is Hibachi. On a Tar Heels social media Q & A last year, Little told UNC fans, “give me some Hibachi with some white sauce… that’s my go to.”

One of his hobbies is playing the piano.

Academics Played A Key Role

Little was the salutatorian of his senior class in High School and member of the National Honor Society.

Military Strong

Little is the son of Harold and April, who both served in the U.S. military.

In January of this year, sports editor Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of the Daily Tar Heel sat down with Little to talk about various on and off the court topics, including what it was like growing up with both of his parent having military backgrounds.

Interview Question: How did having military background parents sort of help you in staying disciplined because I know you're not just a great basketball player, you're a great student. You were the salutatorian of your high school, so how did they help you with that?

Little’s Answer: Growing up, I feel like, they did a lot of work as a child. They’re not really strict. People think, ‘You have military parents and they’re like sit up straight all the time,’ for me it wasn’t really like that it was just kind of like, just being courteous and being conscious and as I got older in middle school, I had a rough year academically. But my parents were never the type to like, get mad at me about it because it wasn’t nothing that they taught me, like it’s not their grades, so I looked at myself in the mirror and I guess it’s just something in me, and I looked at myself and I said, ‘I want to do better.’ So I told myself that I’m going to do good for the rest of my high school, middle school, whatever career. Ever since that year, I started grinding, doing better in the classroom and I’ve been good ever since.

Subway Is About To Have A Big-Time Customer

Days ahead of the 2019 NBA draft, TMZ Sports caught up with Little before he was about to get on a flight out of Washington DC.

Little was nice enough to answer a number of random questions in the airport. He showed off his sense of humor when he was asked about what he plans on buying once he signs that first NBA contract.

Spoiler alert: He is about to “Eat Fresh” A LOT.

Instagram King

As a freshman in college, Little proved he can interact with fans and show his personality with the best of them.

UNC Fans were treated to a “get to know freshman Nassir Little in this exclusive, fan-submitted Q&A on UNC Basketball’s Instagram.”

Some of the IG questions included, why did he cut his hair, does he have good enough dance moves, and why he chose North Carolina.

Fans also found out that Little’s pregame playlist is all about Drake -- “Anything by Drake is fire.”

Get to know more about Little off the court right here with the Tar Heel Q & A:

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Over the weekend, Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler showed his respect for Damian Lillard.

Butler arrived at Sunday’s home game vs. the Colts wearing a Lillard-Trail Blazers statement jersey.

Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean shared the video on social media.

Monday morning, Lillard showed his gratitude on Twitter.

Could we see Butler at the Moda Center this upcoming season rooting on Lillard and the Blazers? You would think he would want to rock the jersey in Rip City.  

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Lillard Time magic on Sunday as the Titans fell to the Colts, 19-17.