Every NBA player has their biggest rival on the court.
For Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas or Patrick Ewing were considered his greatest foe. Magic Johnson couldn’t stand Larry Bird. Even Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal shared a fierce rivalry throughout the years.
On a recent Instagram Live chat between Damian Lillard and rapper Fat Joe, the Trail Blazers star revealed which player gets under his skin. This one should come as no surprise.
“If I had to say I had an arch nemesis, it would probably be Russ [Westbrook], because when me and Russ play, we going after each other,” Lillard said. “It’s been that way every time we’ve played since I’ve been in the NBA. Eight-straight years of just me and him going at each other."
Lillard and Westbrook have had their fair share of heated battles. The point guard beef began in January 2019 when the two began jawing at one another at the free throw line. “I’ve been busting that ass for years,” Westbrook said in response.
In the second quarter of Game 2, Westbrook retreated to the corner of the court and was tightly defended by Lillard when he slipped.
That same game, Lillard pulled up from deep and said "bombs away" after hitting a long 3 over Westbrook.
Who can forget when Russ rocked the baby on Dame after scoring on him in Game 3 of the 2019 NBA playoffs?
But Dame didn’t have time for games. He drained threes from 37-feet and gave the coldest wave to Westbrook & Co. to give his team a 118-115 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
Even Lillard’s teammates have chimed in. We’ll never forget former Trail Blazer Evan Turner mimicking Westbrook’s infamous “rock the baby” move after scoring on him or Jusuf Nurkic’s “why not Westbrick” tweet after Westbrook called Bosnian Beast a “clown.”
But don’t get competitive nature confused with actual hatred. If you ask Lillard, there’s no bad blood between Westbrook and himself despite their on-court drama.
“It’s respect off the court. We solid, we cool off the court,” Lillard said. “But once we play, I just feel like we going after each other every time. It don’t matter beginning of the season, middle of the season, end of the season, it just no matter what it is, we going after each other.”
Lillard and Westbrook may be frenemies off the court, but in the world of sports, we live for this level of pettiness. This feud is far from over.