Lillard: Recapping ASG, thoughts on future
NEW ORLEANS – As the 63rd NBA All-Star game came to a close Sunday night at King Smoothie Center, the Portland Trail Blazers as an organization should leave the Big Easy feeling pretty good about their chances of luring a top talent.
Portland was remarkably one of four NBA teams to have more than one player participating in Sunday’s main event. In order for that to occur, that team has to be winning ball games.
When you’re winning, players want to follow. And according to Aldridge, a couple of All-Star players that shall remain anonymous have approached him, telling him that they would like to play with himself and Damian Lillard in Portland.
“Definitely a few guys have told me that this weekend,” Aldridge informed CSNNW.com.
Aldridge and Lillard say they haven’t actively recruited players over the course of the weekend, which is revealing, meaning those anonymous players went out of their way to express their interest in playing for the Trail Blazers.
“I think winning and the type of people that we are will attract people,” Lillard said. “In that way, I guess we are recruiting but I haven’t actively done so.”
The long perception of the Trail Blazers being an unattractive team in the far left coast with their closest opponent approximately 630 miles away, Portland is slowly starting to transform into a place that players have to consider if serious about their basketball careers.
“If you’re serious about basketball, Portland is the place,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “I love it there. It’s not a big city so it allows you to concentrate on your craft. Some people need the distractions of the nightlife but for me personally, it’s the perfect place for me. I just work on my game. That’s what I get paid to do.”
Aldridge shooting out to an MVP-caliber season, Lillard getting the most shine of any player at All-Star Weekend by making NBA history in competing in all five major events, and the fact that the Trail Blazers finished the first half of the season with a 36-17 record has apparently caught the attention of some top-level players.
All-Star Weekend is where friendships are started and developed. Having the opportunity to play with the best players in the world does something to players. They start to envision playing together. Then they talk about it amongst themselves.The Big 3 in Miami had a few All-Star Weekends together before they joined forces in the summer of 2010. All-Star power forward Chris Bosh admits guys do think those thoughts, but claims that most of the time, talk is all it amounts to.
“Yeah, you always do that like, ‘Man, it would be great to play with this dude. He’s very talented. He’s the best of the best in the league.’ But most of the time, it’s unrealistic,” Bosh said.
Probably so, but it’s still great when players say they want to come play with you in your city. That’s a start. Whether it happens or not is another story.
Aldridge posted four points and five rebounds in 13 minutes. Lillard knocked down three three-pointers in eight minutes, becoming the only Trail Blazer in history to make three threes in an NBA All-Star game.
These two are the first pair of Trail Blazers to play in an All-Star game together since Clyde Drexler and Cliff Robinson did it in 1994.
“It felt good,” Aldridge responded when asked about playing with Lillard in the All-Star game. “I could tell he was having a really good time and just soaking it in. It’s a big honor to be on the court with one of your teammates in this league. It’s rare that two guys go.”
If Portland continues this winning trend, possibly they could see three Trail Blazers represented at the All-Star game in the near future.
The weekend was a success. Portland represented to the fullest here in New Orleans. Aldridge, being the loner that he is, even broke out of his speaking shell. And that’s good, because at some point, he’ll have to recruit. But these last couple of days, he didn’t have to. Players tried to pitch themselves.
“Just the camaraderie with the other elite players,” Aldridge said of his biggest takeaway of the weekend. “I’m kind of to myself, but I think this weekend I definitely reached out more and talked to guys more so that’s good.”