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.”
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.”
Lillard, who is averaging 25.2 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds on the year, believes that if the Trail Blazers had enjoyed more success over the past couple of years, he would have found a way onto the All-Star Game roster.
“For me, it just feels like I’ve had to earn this one for three years. Really appreciative of it,” Lillard said. “A lot of it is due to our team’s success. I think if we had been at this point the last two or three years, I probably would have had two more [selections] … I think this one is a little bit different because I’m on a different team, a completely different role on this team, so I kind of had to go get it. I had to wait my turn.”
“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.”