If you weren’t a fan of Kevin Durant’s taking the easy path to a championship (and being super hypocritical about it), might I suggest a new favorite player: Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.
Because Lillard is apparently so committed to his team that he’d rather spend a career trying and failing to bring a championship to Portland than leave for greener pastures and a ring.
“I would like to win a championship as bad as anybody, but because of who I am, I’d get a lot more satisfaction if I got it the hard way,” Lillard recently told Sports Illustrated. “If I can’t figure it out here and I never win one, I can live with the effort I put into it. I can live with it maybe not happening for me. I’m going to roll with this team regardless of what people may feel about our chances. I’m going to live and die with this.”
The two also differ in leadership; Durant, by his own admission, is not strong in this area.
As for Lillard, let’s check back in on the same SI piece:
“I’ve been in places with superstars who don’t talk to the 15th guy,” [teammate Ed Davis] says. “If you walked in our locker room and didn’t know who made what, you wouldn’t be able to tell he makes the most money. Dame carries himself like one of us.” In his first season sans [LaMarcus Aldridge], Lillard grew weary of his own voice and feared others felt the same. But most Blazers were new to the organization and hesitant, searching for their place in the league. They followed Lillard to the practice facility and didn’t leave, prompting coach Terry Stotts to impose blackout dates so his assistants could preserve off days.
Then again, six years before Durant’s heel turn, he criticized LeBron James for forming his super team in Miami. So I suppose it’s entirely possible for Lillard to undergo the same sort of transformation that might leave a player eyeing other destinations.
But in this case, that doesn’t seem likely.