Earlier this week, I had the chance to catch up with Damian Lillard in Orlando at the EA Sports Studios where we got the inside track on the new NBA Live 2014 that comes out for PS4 and Xbox One this fall. Not only did we get to see all of the details that go into making an awesome video game, but we both received the full motion capture experience by putting on the mo-cap suits and getting recorded in action.
After helping Damian record some of his own signature moves for the game with my help as a dummy defender, we then got to square off in a friendly one-on-one match in which the Rookie of the Year was nice enough to let me score on him twice after getting five straight buckets of his own.
Towards the end of our day, I sat down with the reigning Rookie of the Year for an exclusive one-on-one interview in which we talked about the day, what he’s been up to this summer, his team’s new additions and expectations, as well as his affinity for hip-hop.
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Dime: So we’re here for the making of NBA Live 14. Talk about you’re experience today with making the game.
Damian Lillard: It was cool, bruh. I had seen this a bunch of times, where they (players) put the suits on and have balls and all that attached to them. Just being a part of it — that’s cool.
Dime: It’s your second year in the league coming up. Is it still kind of surreal to see yourself in video games with your in-game attributes so on point?
DL: It is man. It really is. It’s different because I remember in college, it was so off (for NCAA). They wouldn’t have our names, they had the wrong numbers on there sometimes. Just the fact that it’s going from being so off to now it’s like on point, and it’s going to have my moves and my facial expressions. It’s like night and day. So I think it’s cool that I got the opportunity to do something like this.
Dime: How excited are you to join Kyrie as one of the young athletes that EA targeted with this game?
DL: I’m excited about it. I mean he — like I’ve said before, he’s been an All-Star, he’s been on the up-and-up since his first year in the league also. Just the fact that I’m able to be in that same line, joining him here, doing this thing with Live is cool and I’m excited about the opportunity and hopefully I can back up my first year the same way that he did with an All-Star appearance.
Dime: What’s got you specifically excited about the release of this year’s game?
DL: Other than the fact that they haven’t had a game in a few years, the fact that they’re onto a few different new things. It’s different now because at first the graphics was kind of off and now since the last game, you’ve seen 2K have all these different features and now they’re kind of on to their own thing and they (Live) should have a game that should be competitive with 2K so I’m excited to see the difference and why somebody would want to have Live instead of 2K.
Dime: Going back to the mo-cap suit that you put on today, what was your favorite part of that whole experience, other than the head gear being a little uncomfortable?
DL: The head gear was too hot (laughs). My favorite part of it, I mean, I kept looking up at the camera and I could see when I had the whole suit on and I could see how it was capturing everything so it was cool. Other than that, I don’t really know what to say about it.
Dime: Are you a big gamer at all? Like do you play any video games with some of your teammates when you guys are on the road or anything like that?
DL: Nah, I don’t play against people — too weak. But I play video games though.
Dime: Madden, Fifa, any of that stuff?
DL: I don’t play Madden. I play Fight Night, 2K and College Football.
Dime: Moving on to this offseason, what have you been up to this summer?
DL: Nothing man, just a bunch of traveling. Doing all this stuff for adidas, stuff for the league and other than that, I’ve just been at home working out.
Dime: Speaking of working out, earlier in the summer you said you were hoping to work with Gary Payton before training camp. Have you guys connected yet?
DL: Not yet. I mean, we still got a lot of time to. I think we will but we haven’t yet.
Dime: Talk a little bit about your experience at the Team USA Mini-Camp.
DL: Mini-Camp was a lot of fun. It was like all of the top young players there and it was kind of that feeling of the draft again when you’re trying to win people over so I think it was fun just competing for the few spots that it’s going to be. You know just having three days to play against some of the top players and work out with some of the top players and get to know guys that you probably didn’t have a chance to know that well. So it was a cool week.
Dime: What was it like to work with Coach K?
DL: That was tight man. He’s probably the most inspirational coach I’ve ever been around. Every day he had an inspirational video to show us. Literally. Seriously. He had a video every day at the end of every meeting that was inspirational. I’m not easily inspired by like stories and stuff like that and everyday he had me ready. I was ready for practice. So he’s one of the most inspirational coaches. He don’t have to say a lot to get a lot — to get his point across, you know what I mean?
Dime: So with the season coming up, your organization obviously had a really busy offseason, especially with getting you help in the backcourt. Talk about the additions of C.J. McCollum and Mo Williams.
DL: C.J. McCollum is a great scorer. He can really shoot the ball so he’ll stretch the floor. He can handle the ball, he can make plays. Me and him can be on the floor at the same time and me and Mo can be on the floor at the same time because both of them can shoot, both of them can make plays so I can be on or off the ball and having those guys will allow me to rest a little more so I won’t have as much responsibility on offense.
Dime: Right, and that leads actually to my next question: You led the NBA in minutes last year. Are you looking forward to getting a rest every now and then with your new additions?
DL: Yeah, I mean if they need me to play — I’m sure there’ll be some nights where I play high minutes and there’ll be a lot of nights where I’m in-between but it’s really whatever the team needs me to do.
Dime: Also, with C.J. McCollum, not to many people realize that you and him were a little familiar with each other before he joined Portland. Talk about your relationship with him and how you guys can feed off each other this upcoming season.
DL: We’ve been cool for about a little over a year now. He was just asking me for advice on how I was able to get to the NBA and be a lottery pick when I came from Weber State and I was a four-year player and I got hurt. Because he broke the same bone that I broke, same injury and everything. So he was asking me for advice on the rehab and what I did to get my foot healed and stronger again. I mean we we’re talking a lot and as far as us playing together, I think he can score the ball so guys won’t be able to show me as much attention when we’re on the floor at the same time. And he can really knock down shots — he can make shots. So he can stretch the floor out and that will leave more space to make things happen.
Dime: So now that you’ve endured the full 82-game season of the NBA grind, what are your expectations for this season?
DL: I think we should be a playoff team. Last year we had a chance to be a playoff team and they (most people) thought it was a rebuilding year for us, which it could of been considered. We definitely overachieved based on what other people thought. And the excuse or the cop out I guess was the fact that our starters played a lot of minutes. The bench didn’t really produce. But now there’s no excuse. We got a deep bench. We got guys that can come in and help us so there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be a playoff team.
Dime: As you know, hip-hop and sports are sort of synonymous. Every rapper wants to ball and vice-versa. Are there any guys in the rap game that you try to emulate on the court through their drive and hunger?
DL: J.Cole probably because his rhymes ain’t as loud and he’s not like everybody else but there’s substance behind everything that he says. It’s meaningful and powerful and he’s got a presence about him on every track, but it’s like a calm presence and that’s how I am on the court. I get things done but I’m not loud about it. I get it done and I go about my day and it means something to my team. What I bring to the table means something to my team so I’d say him.
Dime: And he’s got a good story too. Have you followed him since his “Dollar & A Dream” days?
DL: Yup, since ’08.
Dime: If you got a quick eight bars then–
DL: I got bars man.
Dime: You got bars for days?
Dime: Alright let’s hear it.
DL: Let me see man. Let me find something appropriate (searches through iPhone). Alright man, you ready bruh?
“I built a reputation on living right with some decency,
cold days got me ready, never been an easy street.
Giving good shit and offering a change of scenery,
self made- boy I operate machinery.
Shinin’ ain’t a thing, I’d rather be a secret,
got a whole lot of bread and still they saying I’m the cheapest.
Wanted to be a millionaire but I ain’t find Regis,
now I’m here to shake the game up and ’bout to cause seizures.
Hella flight miles and it’s business class only,
the business that I’m in is rich and still it’s mad phony.
Watching out for all the snakes, I’m seeing world class Kobes,
rising to the top and my vert looking like a 40.
Money come with dirt, success come with hurt,
this shit supply and demand, I give a smurk for what it’s worth.
Trips out the country, my passports stamped up,
real dudes with me, when I made it they was amped up.
Really flex my muscle that’s how n****s getting cramped up,
but when the pressure on I come up big, I’m a champ bruh.
Stupid how I shine bright, spring it to the limelight,
and all my bars is what these dudes need like a Klondike.”
Dime: Bars for days! That was more than a cool eight!
DL: That was sixteen for ya! (laughs) A quick sixteen, the least I can do.
What do you think?
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