Damian Lillard is denying that he told a Denver Nuggets ball boy the Golden State Warriors are due for an upset. The bulletin board-providing quote was attributed to him by ESPN’s Royce Young in a piece on CJ McCollum previewing the Western Conference Finals.
He waited in the hallway for teammates Kanter and Turner to finish their news conferences, and a Nuggets ball boy looked at Lillard and offered some encouragement about the next round, about beating the Warriors.
Lillard smiled and nodded his head.
“They’re due,” he said. “They’re due.”
The Portland Trail Blazers guard addressed the topic to media yesterday and took issue with Young’s reporting.
There’d be no problem with Lillard pointing out that the Warriors are due to lose. This is really more of a compliment than anything because it means they haven’t lost in a long time. And one would hope Portland has some internal hope they can win the series.
Lillard’s denial, categorized here as emphatic, is interesting in the sense it shows a team not looking to poke the bear.
Two other thoughts: Young is a veteran and respected reporter used to dealing with big, tough personalities from his time in Oklahoma City. He’s built up plenty of leverage to be given the benefit of the doubt here.
Secondly and far less pressing: ear hustle is an incredible phrase to stumble upon for the first time. Distressing to think of all the years this little gem has escaped my visibility.
Plan to use it as much as possible going forward.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is tonight. Lillard and the Blazers will get a few cracks at the Thunder without Kevin Durant and need to capitalize on the opportunity to make this compelling.