Lillard: It's a Honor to Hold Record
SALT LAKE CITY – After losing to the Utah Jazz 112-102 Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena, Damian Lillard sat at his locker stall, slouched over with a ice bag wrapped on his bruised right shoulder.
You could tell he wasn't in the mood for talking. Even after he set an NBA rookie record for most three-pointers made in a season by breaking Stephen Curry's 166 threes made during his 2009-10 rookie campaign, Lillard still wasn't in the mood for a conversation.
His team had just dropped its fifth game in a row and they're without their All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge who is sidelined with an right ankle sprain. The losses don't appear to be ending anytime soon considering their tough remaining schedule.
Eventually, Lillard did speak. Briefly.
“It's an honor to be able to do that in my first season,” Lillard said in a way you knew he didn't want to talk about it. “I wish I would have did it in a win. It's bitter sweet.”
Lillard had to be prodded with further questions in order to get more out of him regarding the three-point feat he accomplished in front of 200 or so friends from his nearby Weber State.
He downplayed his latest achievement, saying the league just shoots more threes nowadays. But his coach elaborated on what he did tonight.
“I'm happy for him,” Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts said. “It's something to be proud of. He's had a fantastic season. Anytime you can set an NBA record, it's impressive. There have been a lot of rookies in this league and that three-point line has been in since '79. That's impressive.”
The simple fact is, Lillard wants to win and he has bigger goals he wants to accomplish rather than just setting a three-point record. He feels he can be one of the very top players this league has to offer and he's on a mission to prove that.
“I think I can be a first team All-NBA, I think I can be an All-Star, I think I can be an MVP,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “That's just my opinion. I don't know when, but how I plan to work and how much better I want to be, I feel like anything is possible.”
That's how much Lillard believes in himself. Finishing tonight's game with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists isn't anything to sneeze at for a rookie. Even in a loss.
The four-time/soon-to-be five-time Rookie of the Month has lofty expectations for himself and why not? No one thought he would be this good early on.
“I'm not saying I deserve those things right now. That's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that I set high standards for myself,” he said. “I'm not going to come out and try to force myself to be an MVP next season, I'm going to be myself and hopefully all the hard work that I put in will get me to that point.
“I can get a lot better.”
Lillard takes pride in what he has been able to do thus far, but he doesn't soak into the hype or the accolades. Just how you see him on the court when he's cool, calm and collected, that's exactly the way he is off the court.
And to those who are extremely close to him, it drives them crazy.
“How other people view what I'm doing, they see it as way bigger than I do,” Lillard sad. “I don't see it the way everybody else sees it. Sometimes people get mad at me because they think I'm not excited about what I'm doing. I just take it for what it is.”
To do something that no one has ever done in the history of the NBA is pretty remarkable. He has eight more games to add to his record-setting three-point rookie total that stands at 169. After that, it's back to the grind.
Lillard says after the season, he's going to take a few weeks off before getting back in the gym for another rigorous off-season regime. It's been a great rookie season, but he wants more.
“For me, the type of person I am, I take pride in results,” he said. “All the hard work I put in during high school, in college, this summer and during this season, I get satisfaction knowing that all got me to this point. Now, I can't wait to go back and do it again so I can see what it'll bring me next season. I don't do it for people to show me love. I do it because I want to be one of the best and I want results from the hard work that I put in.”