PORTLAND, Ore. — Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard admitted it was “disappointing” to hear Russell Westbrook‘s comments about the All-Star Game selections following Lillard’s addition to the roster and Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Paul George‘s absence.
“I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that,” Lillard said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Because he’s played against me, he’s played against our team, he knows what I’ve accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that’s pretty much what it is: I earned my spot.”
Westbrook took what many believed to be a shot at Lillard on Tuesday while speaking to the media in the wake of George’s exclusion.
“Unbelievable. I think it’s just outrageous, in my opinion,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know who else made the team but got four people from one team, you’ve got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in, you’ve got guys just talking about it all the time. But the guys that deserve it — should be in — are not. I just don’t understand. Doesn’t make any sense.”
After dropping 31 points, six assists and four rebounds during Wednesday’s 123-114 win over Minnesota, Lillard was asked if he took any more pride in the performance following Westbrook’s comments.
“I really don’t care what he said,” Lillard said afterward. “His word is not law. So it is what it is. The last thing I’ll say about that is the two years that I didn’t make it I said that every guy that did make it was deserving because they were. I said, I just feel like I should’ve been there, but that was my way of handling it. If that’s how he feel, then that’s how he feel. You don’t have no loyalty towards me.”
For Lillard, this particular All-Star selection, the third of his career, means a lot to the 27-year-old.
“I think as I had the experience my first two years, or my second and third year, and it was like I was really excited to be there, to get the experience,” Lillard said. “And then going two years not getting there, this one I just wanted to get back because I felt like it was something they didn’t want to give me. Something I had to chase. So I think that’s what I get the most out of.”
“That’s not up to me,” Lillard said. “It’s whatever. I’m excited to be a part of it and to be back, so I’ll have fun either way.”
Lillard joined a long line of players and coaches by acknowledging that he wished the NBA would have decided to put the All-Star draft on television.
“I think every year they try to switch it up to keep it fresh,” Lillard said of the new format. “I think it’s a good idea. I think it would have been a good idea to probably [put the draft] on TV.”