It’s no secret that Giannis Antetokounmpo played a key role in recruiting Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks this past summer. As it turns out, however, there was one man, in particular, who played an even more important role in terms of convincing Dame to take his talents to Milwaukee.
That dude was Pat Connaughton.
Damian Lillard Reveals Pat Connaughton’s Role in Milwaukee Bucks Trade
Lillard and Connaughton go way back. The latter started off his career with the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2015, and in his three years with the team, he got to know Dame well. For his part, Lillard took Connaughton under his wing as his rookie, and their relationship on and off the court blossomed naturally.
According to Lillard, the fact that Connaughton was already in Milwaukee played an integral role in his decision to join the Bucks:
“If anything that made a difference, it was when Pat came here,” Lillard said, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Me and Pat was real close in Portland. He was my rook. He came out, and I be like hey, so Giannis going to Portland and you come back with him. Then he was like, you know, Giannis said you come to Milwaukee. You come here. It was like a back and forth like that.”
Apparently, Connaughton served as sort of a middleman between Lillard and Giannis. This dude deserves a raise.
Pat Connaughton Speaks Out
According to Connaughton, Lillard’s move was a long time coming. These two superstars had had a desire to play alongside each other for many years. In fact, Dame initially attempted to recruit Giannis to Portland:
“The interesting part was the personal relationships and friendships I’ve built with all the teammates that I’ve had,” Connaughton said, “They want to win at the highest level and I think they each saw that their games complement each other. I think they each saw that they’re family-oriented guys, they’re fathers first. So, they each kind of reached out to me about it very early on. I think it was my first year, it was 2018-19. … They wanted to play with each other some day. Obviously at the time Dame had an idea of Giannis going to Portland and Giannis had no interest in going to Portland. And Giannis had an idea of Dame coming to Milwaukee and Dame had no interest in coming to Milwaukee at the time.”
While Connaughton may have played the role of an instigator, it appears that all he needed to do was serve as the connection between Giannis and Lillard. He did not have to do much work from there given how the pair really wanted to play with each other anyway.
It’s as if these two were destined to be on the same team.
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