Damian Lillard Aims To Be ‘The Ultimate Example’ In The NBA Amid Free Agency (Exclusive)

One of the biggest questions in the sports world right now is, 'Where will Damian Lillard go next?' But, the NBA star is 'blocking out the noise.'

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Image Credit: Courtesy of Modelo

Damian Lillard is one of the hottest commodities in the NBA at this moment, with the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, the LA Clippers and more teams vying for the former Trail Blazers star to join them. The Oakland native gave 11 years of superb play and leadership to Portland, despite the team not making a NBA Final. Now, he’s set his sights on the next stage in his professional basketball career — he wants a championship, an even greater legacy. “I want to be the ultimate example,” Lillard told HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “When coaches, players and scouts… when they’re going into a draft and want to find a player that’s going to help the team or change the team, that they’re going to have to work with every day that is going to try to give a better chance to win and be a good organization — just be a team that has a chance to be a champion, I want them to say the perfect example’s name is Damian Lillard.”

Damian Lillard. (Shutterstock)

He continued, “I want them to say, ‘He had the ability, he made the all-star games, his durability, the kind of teammate he was, how coachable he was, his work ethic, the kind of person he was onscreen and offscreen, what he represented, what he came from.’ I want all of those things to be what my legacy is. I want to be remembered for those things. And ultimately, hopefully the cherry on top would be that he did all of those things and he was a champion, as well.” In 11 seasons with Portland, Lillard has been named to seven All-Star teams, made seven All-NBA teams, and earned a spot on the NBA 75. Last season, he averaged 32.2 points per game on 64.5 percent true shooting last season.

While the Weber State star didn’t allude to where he hoped to go next, multiple reports claim he has his sights set on Miami. In speaking to HollywoodLife, he pressed that he does his best to “keep out the noise” and stay focused on his goals. “At the end of the day, when everything ends, I want to be able to walk away and look back and say that I stayed true to myself and I wasn’t influenced by other things and other people in a way that made me step outside of who I truly am,” Lillard said, “And as long as I do that, I know that I’ll walk away and I’ll be happy with it.”

He added, “Whenever it starts to get noisy, whenever it starts to get a little cloudy, I always put myself ahead of that and I say, ‘Okay, when all the smoke clears and everything goes away, when that time comes, what do I want to look back on and be proud of?’ And I think staying true to myself is something that I’ll always say. When I get to the other side of whatever is happening, I don’t want to get over there and feel like I compromised what I really care about or who I am. So that’s what allows me to work through that.”

Damian Lillard partners with Model. (Courtesy of Modelo)

Dame’s mindset aligns perfectly with his latest partnership with Modelo, which celebrates the fighting spirit. “I feel like that’s just what my story since I was a kid all the way up to making it to the NBA, to right now,” he said. “I feel like everything has been an uphill battle. So, I think that fighting spirit is something that’s inside of you. It’s not something that people will look at you and know is there, but it’s what you’ve gone through and how you choose to go about those obstacles. I think that’s what I represent.” With Modelo, Lillard will invite fans to participate in the sweepstake via his Instagram, sharing a new bucket list activity for fans to complete in June, July and August. Each month, 10 participants will win a custom Modelo and Dame-inspired beer bucket, a gift card towards a summer’s worth of Modelo* and essential Modelo merchandise for the warm months. Plus, at the end of the summer, 3 participants will win a separate grand prize featuring items hand selected by Dame himself.