Oakland native Lillard appreciates love from Warriors fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Damian Lillard always will have love for his hometown.
The proud Oakland native spoke to The Athletic's Christopher Kamrani during an appearance at his alma mater, Weber State, and said the reception he gets there reminds him of how Warriors fans greet him when he plays road games in the Bay Area.
“It’s a special connection. It means a lot to me because it’s similar to when I go home to Oakland and I play against the Golden State Warriors,” Lillard told Kamrani. “When they call my name in the starting lineups, the crowd shows me a lot of love and it’s the same when we play against the Jazz. They say ‘from Weber State’ and everybody just kind of goes crazy out of love."
Lillard has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, as he reportedly has become frustrated by the Portland Trail Blazers' continued early playoff exits. The Warriors have been linked as a potential trade partner, given his deep connection to the city of Oakland. Lillard didn't make much of a statement on that front, simply saying that he knows "the facts."
“You get to a position where it’s like, ‘Do I defend myself or do I just say nothing.’ For me, when I’m just hearing stuff that’s not the facts, I’m going to say I didn’t say that,” Lillard told Kamrani. “Some things I’ve just got to let it be said. I know what the truth is. I know where I stand. It’s not my duty to make the public know … it’s not my job to make them aware of what that is.
“It definitely has been different. I feel like I’ve handled it like I’ve handled everything. I just let it happen. I let people talk and I just stay true to who I am and I stand on that. If I say something, I stand on what I said. It is what it is, at this point.”
Lillard always has been loyal to Portland, and a trade at this stage of the offseason seems highly unlikely. A player of his caliber should be competing for championships year in and year out, and he likely has put pressure on the organization to make moves to vault the team into the upper echelon of a fiercely competitive Western Conference.
A trade to the Warriors seems especially unlikely as of now, but Lillard always will hold a special place in his heart for the Oakland and Bay Area fans that cheer him on when he plays at Chase Center.