In the wake of the Bucks’ blockbuster acquisition of Damian Lillard, the previously disgruntled ex-Blazers star finally appears to be at peace with where he is in his career, according to Gilbert Arenas.
The former NBA All-Star revealed as much Friday on his podcast, No Chill with Gilbert Arenas, where Arenas shared that Lillard texted him after the deal.
In response to the new Bucks guard’s message, Arenas, who noted the two have talked at-length in the past, said he asked Lillard, “Are you happy?,” prompting a quick confirmation from the 11-year veteran in a loaded response about his legacy and reputation.
“I am,” Lillard said to Arenas, who read the message to co-host Josiah Johnson. “I think it will finally come to light that I’m one of those guys at the very top. They have discredited me for years without acknowledgment, how I was never on even close to even playing field with everybody else.”
Arenas—a Wizards star for eight of his 12 seasons—went on to infer, based on Lillard’s text, that the 33-year-old’s mindset came as a result of being a successful, small-market player who felt like they didn’t receive the same level of praise as some of his peers. But, while Milwaukee may also be considered in the same vein by some, Arenas believes Lillard is exactly where he wants to be, given the chance to play with Giannis Antetokounmpo and help the 2021 NBA champions compete for another title.
Said Arenas, “I think now that he’s going to be on that big stage, and gonna be number one in the East and he’s gonna to do what he’s going to do. All of a sudden, he’s gonna go from Dame to this superstardom, all because of the team he’s playing on. And I think, at this point in his career, that’s what he’s been, you know, looking for.”
As two of the top 75 players of all-time, Antetokounmpo and Lillard figure to form a formidable tandem on a team that could be the No. 1 seed by season’s end. And, if his reply to Arenas is any indication, the ever-confident Lillard may be on a warpath to prove Dame Time isn’t running out anytime soon, even as the No. 2 option on his new team.