With the Portland Trail Blazers heading in another direction by mutually parting ways with Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard took to Instagram to pay his respects.
Lillard wrote: It was an amazing 9 years. Terry has been the only coach I’ve known as a pro and is a great person and coach. Thankful for the freedom he gave and trust he gave me from Day 1 and allowing me to grow into the player I am now. Change has always been hard for me and this is no different... I will miss Nate, jimbo, Oz, and Juice man... all great men before great coaches... hard to even think about them not being around and still living where we’ve made so many memories. Best wishes!
What’s revealing from Lillard’s post is his goodbye to the rest of the Blazers staff, which included Nate Tibbetts, Dale Osbourne, John McCullough, Jim Moran, and Jannero Pargo.
It’s not out of the ordinary for staff to be terminated when the head coach is gone. When a new head coach is hired he typically brings in his own staff, and if the new coach is interested, he may ask or interview a coach from the outgoing staff.
Lillard’s been in the league for nine seasons and is going through his first coaching change. Something very few star players can say. It’s the consistency of familiarity as to why Lillard has praised the organization, but sometimes a tough change is needed to progress.
The pairing of Lillard and Stotts included eight straight playoff appearances and a 2019 trip to the Western Conference Finals. There was always a respectable team in Portland, but not good enough against the league’s elite.
When a team can’t compete with the league’s elite, a general manager and ownership will only deal with the same results for so long. In Stotts’ case, Portland dealt with the same results longer than most sports teams.
They showed patience with him. A man whose one of the best coaches in franchise history.
Lillard and Stotts became team legends together. Something few if anyone thought was possible when their pairing initially happened.