Lillard’s Cool-Head In The Clutch Blossomed In Youth
By sarahhecht Posted in: damianlillard
is one cool-headed character. As a rookie he's playing like a seasoned NBA vet and it’s no wonder he’s taken the league by storm. One can practically watch him adapt his game to different situations and obstacles in real-time, triggering a common reaction of awe from onlookers. But how does he do it? How does he maintain such unwavering composure in high-pressure situations when young NBA players typically falter?
For Lillard it goes back to his youth. Growing up Damian was no stranger to high expectations. The constructive pressure he handled on a daily basis from his family allowed him to build confidence with each of his successes. “When I was young they expected so much of me and I just embraced it,” Lillard said. “I was never afraid of people having high expectations for me and I developed confidence growing up and I just been that way since.”
Weber State saw the greatest strides in the further development in Lillard’s cool demeanor. “It’s pretty much always been that, but in college I think that’s when it just stuck all the time,” Lillard said of his calm attitude. “In high school I had times where I probably woulda got away from it a little bit, might’ve got mad or something, but in college once I had so much responsibility I realized that my coaches believed in me and I was fine from that point on.”
Now, as a rookie sensation on the World’s greatest basketball stage it’s second nature for Damian to handle tough or excitable situations in a cool manner. Seemingly wise beyond his years, Lillard’s logical approach to dealing with pressure is quite impressive.
“In my head there’s been a lot of times where I’ve been like, ‘Man, you gotta pick it up. Turn it up now,’ and the hardest thing is trying to do it without looking like you forcing yourself back into the game,” Lillard said of what goes on in his head during games. “So I just keep my composure. And the other thing is I know there’s gonna be more games and more games so I just stick with it.
“I know it’s always gonna be a chance for it to happen. I can go 0-for-10 and it might not mean I’m gonna score 20, but me being a point guard and having the ball in my hands all the time I know it’s gonna come some point where I could make a game-changing play or have an effect on the game.”
And have an effect he does. It’s now two of the last three games where Lillard has hit the game-winner or the game-clinching shot. All the while keeping his signature cool.
Check out his game winner over New Orleans and his game-clincher tonight against Phoenix.