Damian Lillard asks Hall of Famer to teach him defense
Over the years we’ve seen today’s NBA stars ask old legends like Hakeem Olajuwon for help with their basketball game. Usually to teach moves in the post. Unless you’re Andrew Bynum and you get annoyed with the legend’s help. Anyway, Rookie of the Year point guard, Damian Lillard, is asking a Hall of Fame player to help improve a different aspect of his game, Defense.
Lillard is going to “The Glove” for help. One of the greatest perimeter defenders in basketball history, Gary Payton will work with the young Portland Trail Blazer guard this summer to improve his porous defense.
“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.’’
Gary Payton and Damian Lillard are both from East Oakland, California. Oakland seems to be the place to find a point guard as Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw are also from Oakland. Payton first saw Lillard while he was playing at Weber State, but didn’t really take an interest until he saw Lillard drop 37 points against Golden State. That is when Payton gave Lillard some very high praise.
“Gary said ‘This kid has more than I ever had, than Jason (Kidd) ever had, than Brian (Shaw) ever had,’’ Goodwin said. “Now, this is big, because Gary always considered himself the best. And he said ‘I want to help this kid get his defense down. Because if he gets better defensively, he will be the best to ever come out of the California area.’
“Now that’s from Gary; that’s Gary admitting this kid is special. From Gary Payton, that takes a lot.’’