The Portland Trail Blazers traded Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sept. 27, 2023. Tomorrow night - Jan. 31, 2024 - Dame will play in Rip City once again, this time in a green and cream jersey rather than black and red.
It will be a much-anticipated and emotional reunion for Lillard and Trail Blazers fans, who will always have a special place for one another.
Dame met with the media and discussed what this game will mean to him, what he expects when stepping on the court in Moda Center and what the future may hold.
All quotes courtesy of Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian/Oregon Live.
Damian Lillard: 'Right now I play for the Bucks'
Lillard wanted to win an NBA championship. He wasn't going to do that in Portland. Both sides knew it. For all the hullabaloo about Miami and Heat Culture, the 33-year-old ended up in probably the best possible situation to fulfill that desire. Milwaukee has a two-time MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a host of other players who've already won a title.
The immediate goal is that championship, but Dame didn't rule out ending his career back where it began:
"I see there being a time where I play for the Trail Blazers. But it won’t be right now. I play for the Bucks. To accomplish what we want to accomplish, you’ve got to be all in on that. And I was traded and I’m all in to try to accomplish that here."- Damian Lillard
Lillard expects an emotional reunion
Dame is ready for a warm welcome at Moda Center. There's a good chance it ends up being more than that.
"I think it will be emotional because I care. I loved playing in Portland. I loved living there and still live there. I’m not like a big crier. I don’t think I’ll be crying, and all of that. But I care. Everything I ever said about my time in Portland playing there, I meant that s---. ... I never had plans to not play for the Blazers. So, I think because of that being a genuine feeling, I don’t think it will ever leave. But I think sometimes you’ve got to make hard decisions for what you want ultimately."- Damian Lillard
The Blazers and Bucks will play tomorrow night, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. PT.
For more of Lillard's comments, including more about his feelings for the city of Portland, playing against Anfernee Simons and adjusting to life with the Bucks, read Fentress' story here.