Damian Lillard leadership qualities in plain sight for Team USA Gold Medal

Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, USA Basketball (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, USA Basketball (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images) /

I like many Portland Trail Blazers fans would imagine that Damian Lillard would go away to the Team USA camp thinking that it would be a break from the noise of his wanting away from Portland and to focus on his game in a competitive environment.

It hadn’t exactly been so plain sailing in that regard, with the rocky start this team went through initially with early losses, natural leaders within the squad have had to step up and that’s exactly what Dame did.  The white noise of free agency back in Portland was also prominent even when his focus at that moment in time was winning gold with Team USA.

The team hadn’t even left for Tokyo for the impending Olympics and yet they had a rude awakening with their warmup games against Nigeria and Australia especially. This has been a look into the life of a Blazers fan for any casual Team USA fan, understanding how truly valuable Lillard is, not only down to his ability, but his on the court leadership too which has been on show, helping lead the USA team to Olympic glory in the form of a gold medal.

When this squad really needed someone to step up with talent in the middle of a rough patch early into the Olympics, anyone’s money would be on Lillard to be the first one in the team to do so as he has proven on too many occasions in the NBA. I am in no way downplaying other player’s importance within that team, merely highlighting that whenever Lillard steps up, it is almost a rallying cry to the rest of the team to start to come together and really push up a gear.

This is Dame’s biggest quality in my eyes, as he also knows when to take more of a backseat when surrounded by other upper-echelon talents, a luxury he can’t afford back home in Portland, however.

When suited up for the Blazers, it’s nothing new that Dame is carrying the team to a win when the game is going down to the wire. He however had to watch on from time to time during the Olympics as others in the team took turns to come up clutch during games that were hanging in the balance for Team USA.

As a team of undeniable individual talent now came together to work together as a team, they would’ve had to have quickly figured out how to learn to play as a team and trust the next guy to step up. A stark contrast for Lillard will be awaiting him for this upcoming season following the eerily quiet free agency period for the Blazers head office.

Kevin Durant was the key player in the backstretch of the Olympics to push Team USA to their fourth consecutive basketball gold medal. KD, unlike Dame, can fall back on two all-star players in Kyrie and Harden back in Brooklyn, which shows his fortune to miss the odd game here and there as he has trust in his teammates and knows that they are more than capable of getting the win by themselves. Proof that at the start, it was tough for Dame to switch off his leadership capabilities but in the end had the help and ultimately had the trust in his teammates to follow through when it mattered.

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