The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend did not go as Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had planned.
He was going to participate in the three-point contest.
He was going to get buckets and try to help Team LeBron get the win against Team Giannis in the All-Star Game.
But, with a strained groin injury that Lillard suffered in the last game before the break, his All-Star weekend turned into him focusing on getting healthy and performing his music in front of thousands.
Lillard admitted that his weekend in Chi-Town has been a lot more chill now that he’s injured.
In a sit-down interview with Trail Blazers Digital Content Manager Amara Baptist, the 5-time All-Star gave his thoughts on the weekend, an update on his health and how the Trail Blazers are ready for a final playoff push.
“Just to be able to lay low, be with my son, be with my family has been cool,” Lillard told Baptist.
Lillard said he feels ‘pretty good,’ just four days after suffering a right groin strain in Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and has been getting treatment and training while he has been in Chicago.
“It’s obviously sore, it’s a legit injury,” Lillard added.
The Trail Blazers team captain didn’t get to showcase his basketball talents this weekend, but he did get to share his musical talent with the world, performing on the NBA Saturday Night stage.
“It was cool just because being selected for the three-point shootout and the All-Star Game, and then not being able to play because I’m hurt, but still having a side of me or a talent that could be put on display was pretty cool,” Lillard said.
“Being able to share my music on the stage in front of that many followers and viewers, I thought that was real cool. I was excited about that, like it was my All-Star.”
In his 8th season, Lillard has been putting up historic numbers.
He’s been on a scoring tear.
In his last 10 games, Lillard is averaging 34.7 points, 9.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He is also shooting just under 50 percent from the field, while hitting 47.2 percent from three.
Lillard admitted that it was tough not to compete in the All-Star Game this weekend.
I think we work so hard to be acknowledged for what we do. And this is like a reward that you don’t get to participate in… I realize that my health is first and my priority is my team if I want to come back and try to give us a chance to make a playoff push, then I can’t risk that by going out here and tweaking my groin a little bit more, making it worse than it is. Not only for this season, but going forward. I had to make a business decision, I guess. Obviously, I can even feel it, I know it wouldn’t be right to do from the standpoint of the future and the rest of the season it didn’t make sense.” -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard
Now it’s all about the homestretch of the season. Portland does have a favorable schedule, too, with 15 of their final 26 games at home.
Lillard knows he and his team must come together and be on the same page.
I think the urgency just has to be there. I think in our last 12, 13 games, we’ve played with a mentality, an edge that we need to win games, and I think that’s why we’ve won more games than we have been winning, especially against the better teams in the league -- home and on the road. So, I think we just have to continue that. I think coming out of the break you’re going to start seeing teams who are struggling to stay in that race, just fade away. -- Damian Lillard
After having that look in his eye Wednesday night following the loss to the Grizzlies, Lillard said, “It’s far from over. Believe that. It’s far from over.”
Lillard added to that message this weekend:
“I think we’ve got to be that team that continues to fight through because we’ve been here before, so I just think it comes down to the urgency and how much it means to us, and I know it means a lot to our team. I gotta get healthy and we just have to come correct, our mentality has to be right. We’ve got to be on the same page, we’ve got to play with that purpose,” Lillard said.
The 29-year-old also mentioned that getting Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and Zach Collins (left shoulder) back from injuries will only help them in the postseason.
“Once we get in [the playoffs], I’m pretty sure we’re the last team that anybody wants to see.”
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE: