More than a decade into his NBA career, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard continues to elevate his game.
Lillard’s career-high average of 32.2 points per game game this past season at the age of 32, a scoring masterclass that helped him earn All-NBA Third Team honors, once again cementing his status as one of the NBA’s premier players.
How Lillard attacks the summer partly explains his continued ascent. He’s using the offseason to add more layers to his game — whether it’s a deeper 3-point shot, a tighter handle or better finishing — while still having enough time to pursue other passions.
Through his partnership with Modelo, Lillard and the beer company hope to spread this growth mindset to fans with the Modelo Summer Bucket Sweepstakes. Each month in June, July and August, Lillard will reveal a personally curated bucket list activity on his and Modelo’s Instagram channels. To enter the contests and stand a chance to win a Dame-inspired Modelo beer bucket, fans must share a video or photo of themselves completing the latest bucket list activity on their Instagram feed before each monthly entry deadline . At the end of the drawing, all participants will be entered for the chance to win great prizes.
Ahead of the draws, Blazer’s Edge’s Conor Bergin spoke with Lillard over Zoom to discuss the event, a little NBA Draft analysis and how his summer is changing on and off the court.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Mountain: Can you tell me about your partnership with Modelo?
Lillard: It’s been a few years now. [I’ve] always been a big fan of the Modelo commercials and I think when I look at my history and where I come from and a lot of the obstacles I’ve had to overcome, I think it’s a lot of adversity, I have met. right where it started – just being a fan of those commercials, and that fighting spirit, and feeling that my story can be a part of it, like my story represents it. This special Summer Bucket Sweepstakes is another great example of where we align with taking advantage of summer and not taking time off.
Bergin: Can you talk more specifically about how the Modelo Summer Bucket Sweepstakes represents your personality as an athlete and as a person?
Lillard: As an athlete, I would say that I always go into the summer looking for a challenge. I’m always looking for a way to level up, whether it’s how hard I’m working, whether it’s things I may have struggled with or things I may have been distracted by – how do I remove these things? I would say as a person, it’s just when I get to the summer that I take advantage of everything I’m interested in. I tend to make more of my music in the summer. When the season is over, I become an artist, and for part of that I become a boxer, I’m in the ring. I will become a trainer, I will train my mother and my sister. I take care of my kids, I have dad day care going on. This is the time when I really just come alive. I’m always looking for things. It’s not just like, “oh, basketball is over and I’m just going to go sit down.” Everything else that I am passionate about, that I care about, that I have a real interest in, I am also getting into those things and take them seriously.
Bergin: What are some of the big prizes that raffle participants will win?
Lillard: My signature shoe, I’ll have some nice headphones to go with them, and then I’ll leave the rest to a surprise. You just have to participate.
Bergin: In a Men’s health profile on you from December, you talked about how you were trying to “bulletproof” yourself now with your training. Can you talk about how your mindset has changed that way and what you’ve been doing with your off-season training this summer?
Lillard: Before, I would just do everything hard and try to push myself to the limit and prepare like that. I’d say it’s changed the most in how smartly I do it, as opposed to how hard I do it. It is mapped out, it is planned. All my coaches and trainers – whether it’s a massage therapist, min [physical therapist]my strength and fitness [coach], my coaches on the field, my speed and agility coach — they’re all connected on one file. I’ll be with two of them some days and three of them some days and it’s like “today is a light day when he’s with you, it’s a medium day when he’s with you, and it’s a hard day [when he’s with you].” So I’ll be with all of them at some point in the day, but each person has a specific day where I go hard with them or we go easy just to get some maintenance type in and so it’s still a medium workout to work up a sweat and address certain things. I think having that team together has allowed me to, as I say, be “bulletproof [myself].” [I’m] make sure I’m sharp, make sure I get rest and I’m recovering. Just doing all those things so that my game is not just tight, but my body can sustain it and support it.
Bergin: What has impressed you most about Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller as players as the NBA Draft approaches?
Lillard: I just think they are impressive players. I saw Brandon Miller in college. He is a good playmaker, he can pass the ball. You see him [make] pull-up 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, finishing over the top of people in the paint. He’s just a confident player, so he’s part of the consensus top three players, and there’s a reason for that. If it were another year, he’d probably be the favorite to finish number one, and you can say the same about Scoot. Being a young guy and coming in and playing in the G League and being able to have that physical presence and his athleticism that jumps off the page like that. It’s impressive how young they are and how ready to be in the NBA they are.
Bergin: How is summer changing for your family now that your kids are getting older?
Note: Lillard and his wife Kay’La Hanson have three children. Damian Jr., is 5, while twins Kali and Kalii are just over 2.
Lillard: It changes a lot because when they were younger, you don’t want them moving around too much. You don’t want to take these young kids on flight after flight and across the country, so you’re much more of a homebody. I think now as they get older and talk and walk and they have interests – they know every animal, they have favorite colors, they pay attention to everything – now you can take them to San Diego to the zoo. You can take them to Dinosaur World. You can take them to the cinema. You can just pack them in the car, get them on the plane. They’re moving around as people now, so I think it’s changed in the way that they can participate in a lot more things now, so it’s not as much of a standstill.
Bergin: This season you had talked about how you had never been to the Oregon Coast, is that a bucket list item for you this summer?
Lillard: It is on my summer bucket list, to reach the coast.
Bergin: Do you have a date confirmed?
Lillard: I don’t have one confirmed, man, it’s not at the top of the summer bucket list.