“Trying on the actual USA uniform at my hotel last night was when it hit me that I made it. I had to take a picture of that moment. I was like, 'This is Team USA.'” Those quotes from Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard after the National Team's first practice said it all in regards to how proud he is to be in a position to represent his country. The lightly-recruited high school prospect turned 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, continues to rack of the accomplishments and accolades in an unusual path. He is one of 28 players competing in a four-day mini camp that concludes with a intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday with the goal of landing a roster spot for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. From Weber State, to Rookie of the Year, to possibly being able to play alongside the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant is not the path anyone would have thought he was going down when he decided to attend a school in Ogden, UT. Then there's Coach K, a coach he admires and has seen roam the Duke sidelines for years. During his time at Weber State, he watched Duke play a lot. Mainly because he felt he was better than some of those guys over there. “I wasn't going to get recruited at that level, but I felt like I should have,” Lillard said. “That's just how I felt, but it's an honor to play for him after all he's done.” When growing up and having aspirations of one day playing in the NBA, the common steps most think of to achieve such a feat is dominating the AAU circuit, followed by becoming a McDonald's All-American, then signing with Duke or North Carolina or Kentucky, and then onto to being in the NBA lottery. We're well aware that wasn't the case with Lillard. He admits he still has a chip on his shoulder about being overlooked by bigger schools. But his biggest issue was people not giving him his respect once he felt he had established himself as one of the best collegiate players in the nation.
Lillard proud to represent USA, but still has a chip on his shoulder
CSN Northwest | Jul 23