Damian Lillard’s blockbuster trade to the Milwaukee Bucks did not happen overnight. While the move may have ultimately taken more than a few folks by surprise, the truth of the matter is that Lillard himself has long had a desire to play alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo somewhere down the road.
In a recent interview, Dame spills on one of his first meaningful conversations with the Bucks talisman — and how Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James played a key role in the same.
Damian Lillard’s Encounter With Milwaukee Bucks Star Giannis Antetokounmpo
During the 2021 All-Star Game, the players were placed in a “bubble” in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Incidentally, Lillard and Giannis were on the same team that year, which was thanks to LeBron James who drafted both superstars to his team.
Antetokounmpo was Team LeBron’s first pick in the 2021 All-Star Game Draft, while Lillard was part of James’ reserve picks. Throughout the weekend’s festivities, Dame and Giannis got to know each other better:
“It was kind of weird because you couldn’t leave the hotel. I remember that year on the bus to the arena from the hotel it was me, Giannis and ‘Joker’ (Denver star Nikola Jokić),” Lillard said, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “… I was sitting on this side and I feel like ‘Joker’ was in front of me in the seat and Giannis was the row next to me and we were having a three-way conversation. That was really the most dialogue we had in person like that. Then we got to the arena and before we went out on the court to do all the stuff, me, him and ‘Joker’ was kind of carrying on our conversation in the hallway before we went on. And then (Dallas’) Luka (Dončić) came out. So it was all these foreign dudes and me, you know?”
Lillard also revealed, however, that the conversations they had were more casual in nature. There was no talk about eventually teaming up. It was more of Lillard and Antetokounmpo getting to know the man behind the name:
“I don’t think that opened up no type of dialogue,” Dame said. “I think it just gave me a better look, to hear him speak and how he thought. He gave me a better look at the person, you know what I mean? And I think the same for him. I probably at that point had more dialogue with (Thanasis) than I did with Giannis. We had always exchanged respect when he seen me and I seen him. That was it. I wouldn’t say it opened up dialogue.”
While it may not have started a dialogue, it certainly planted the first seeds of what would eventually become the Bucks’ incredible superstar pairing.
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