Trail Blazers

Damian Lilllard listening 'harder' to his successful USA coaches

Trail Blazers

Yes, Damian Lillard will be representing his country at the upcoming Olympic Games, along with many of the best basketball players in the world.

It’s a chance to win a gold medal and achieve a goal of so many great athletes around the world in most sports.

But there’s another benefit for being a member of the U.S.A. national basketball team:

Learning.

Not only is Lillard playing alongside some of the greatest players in the world, he will have a chance to be coached this summer by a staff consisting of head coach Gregg Popovich and his assistants, Jay Wright, Lloyd Pierce and Steve Kerr.

And for a player who had had just one head coach through his entire NBA career, it’s a special time for Lillard.

And a time for seeing things in a different light.

“It’s fun,” Lillard said during a Zoom news conference after Thursday’s USA practice. “Because you just see a different way. “Sometimes a different language, and you know, a different type of energy about him -- like, just talking to ‘Pop.’ Talking to Steve Kerr, talking to Jay Wright, you know, everybody.

“They've done things at such a high level, for ‘Pop’ and Steve Kerr, specifically, at a level that I've been wanting to be on.”

 

It isn’t always being introduced to something new, of course. It can just be a different way of looking at a familiar situation. Or a unique analysis.

“Not that they know something my coaches in the last nine years haven't known,” Lillard said. “But it's just when you get there and you have that level of experience, if you have that level of success. It's, you know, it’s just a little bit different.

“So, I've come in here, just listening a little bit harder, having my ears open, and wanting to hear what they have to say and why they do things a certain way.

“And you know, it has to be at that level. It's a reason why they've had so much success.”

So don’t be surprised if Damian Lillard shows up next season with a different slant on some things. Sure, he will have a new Trail Blazer coach.

But he will likely have learned some things this from some of coaching all-stars he’s working with this summer.