Damian Lillard has become a superstar NBA player and it’s his leadership and the way he carries himself off the court that has also earned him so much praise.
The 30-year-old point guard has been described as one of the best leaders and teammates.
But that is exactly what Lillard learned about Carmelo Anthony playing alongside him during the 2019-20 season:
“The type of dude he is – I’ve got nothing but respect for Mel,” Lillard told rapper Fat Joe.
The American rapper and actor had Lillard on his podcast, The Fat Joe Show, for nearly an hour.
The two talked hoops, music and plenty in between.
Lillard discussed how much he enjoyed playing with Melo last season, but it wasn't because he idolized him early in his basketball career.
“I loved it because as an NBA player and even before I got in the league because of how I was brought up and being from Oakland, I wasn’t taught to look up to the people who was the most popular or the most well-known,” Lillard said.
It was all about observing players he grew up watching.
“It was like you’ve got to watch how people move, watch how they speak and what they say, and watch their behavior and how they act in certain situations.”
The Trail Blazers point guard admitted that after hearing all the noise about Anthony “not being a good teammate” or that he was “selfish,” he didn’t know what to think about that at first.
But Melo quickly proved to Dame what kind of guy and teammate he is – a teammate you always want to be around.
Lillard continued, “You hear people talk about – he’s a bad teammate and he’s selfish, he’s this and he’s that and you don’t know for yourself, so once I got up on him for myself, and I was in the locker room with him and every city we go to we going to dinner, and we kicking it, and we watching film together and we texting, and in practice -- we standing on the sideline chopping it up.”
Last season, Anthony averaged 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 58 games for the Blazers.
He always had Lillard’s respect, but now it’s much more than just respecting his game.
Listen to the entire podcast with Fat Joe and Damian Lillard here.