Throughout history there is one common factor among all of the greats in the NBA. They all hold a unique inner motivation to never rest on their accomplishments and always seek to get better. Typically, you see that type of work off the court from the veterans who are looking to take their game to the next level.
So when Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard became just the 4th unanimous Rookie of the Year in NBA history, it might have been common to assume that the young superstar would rest on his laurels in the off-season. Apparently though, he is only concerned with getting better.
Via Blazers Insider, Lillard is seeking the tutelage of one of the great defensive point guards in the history of the game. A player more commonly known as ‘The Glove.’
“When people say stuff about my defense, it bothers me,’’ Lillard said. “And I’m aware of it. It drives me. It lights a fire under me.’’
If that attitude and drive doesn’t convince Trail Blazers fans that the franchise is in good hands, maybe this will: The wheels are already in motion for Lillard to workout and study defense this summer under the tutelage of the greatest defensive point guard ever, Hall of Famer Gary Payton.
“He said ‘I want to help you,’ ’’ Lillard said of Payton. “He said it would take time for me to become a defender, but he said I have everything to become one. So this will be the summer where I get in the gym with him and try to learn from him.’’
For a franchise stricken with bad luck throughout their history (passing on Michael Jordan in draft, choosing Greg Oden over Kevin Durant), I think Trail Blazer fans should sleep soundly knowing they have a rising star in Lillard.
For such a young player with already the full package on offense to build with, his attention to defense will set him apart down the road. And with Gary Payton tutoring him, it can only mean great things.