Damian Lillard is known as one of the NBA’s most clutch players. He is so effective at the end of games, in fact, that the closing moments of outings have become known as Dame Time.
Unfortunately, Lillard hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase that portion of his game in the Olympics. In fact, following a particularly poor performance against Spain in the quarterfinals, head coach Gregg Popovich opted to bench the Portland Trail Blazers star.
The move was not without merit. Team USA had fallen behind by as many as 10 points and Lillard was getting absolutely lit up by Ricky Rubio, who finished with 38 points on the day. Lillard, meanwhile, recorded 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting in that one.
This week, Lillard responded to Popovich’s decision to bench him.
“We’re here for one thing and that’s to win a gold medal,” Lillard said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “I don’t think any of us come here with the mentality that we got to just dominate every game or score a bunch of points. We’re trying to win the game so we’re going to roll with whatever is working. And that’s that. I think we all understand that.”
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
That’s probably the right attitude to have. For all the talk about how bad this incarnation of Team USA is, they are still very close to winning it all. With a win over France in the Finals, the American side will claim gold once more. Players like Lillard accepting their roles has been an instrumental part of that success.
As far as Lillard goes, it’ll be interesting to see his role versus France. While it’s unlikely that any of the 5 teams that are desperately trying to trade for him will be scared off by his tame showing on the world stage, it’s still not great for his brand.