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Could saying no to LeBron be Damian Lillard's biggest career mistake?

Could saying no to LeBron be Damian Lillard's biggest career mistake?

The following article first appeared on BasketballNetwork.net:

Sometimes, a player’s loyalty to his team can also become his weakness. Damian Lillard chose to stay in Portland, and in the process, might've rejected a chance to compete for the NBA title this year. He had an opportunity to join the Los Angeles Lakers but said no to LeBron James. Time will only tell if he'll regret that decision later on. 

LeBron James, Anthony Davis tried to recruit Dame to L.A.

Dame was in L.A. in the offseason to shoot his music video for an upcoming album. He and James met at a WNBA game, and sensing it could be an excellent opportunity to discuss some things with the Blazer star, The King invited Dame to come to his mansion for lunch. When Dame arrived, Anthony Davis was there. At that time, everyone knew at the table that it wasn’t just going to be a simple lunch, but a recruitment discussion.

As Lillard shared with Yahoo! Sports, James talked about how things would go if he were to join them with the Lakers. But Dame didn't feel that joining a super team was right. 

“I was just saying, I don’t know if this is the route I wanted to go,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “And that was pretty much how the conversation went.”

Lillard’s loyalty could haunt his career 

Lillard has given his all to his city and his team. At this point, if he were to request a trade, fans would almost feel sorry about him asking for one too late. After losing to a Denver Nuggets team without Jamal Murray in last year's playoffs, Dame realized the Blazers could not compete for a title seriously. 

So Blazers general manager Neil Olshey hired a new coach in Chauncey Billups, hoping the former NBA champion could inject some fresh ideas and convince Lillard to stay. Things have not happened according to plan thus far, as Dame has struggled to get his rhythm early in the season. The six-time All-Star is shooting 35.3% from the field and 23.4% from the three-point line to start the season. Fans know he needs to get out of his slump to keep Portland's playoff dreams alive.

If Dame accepted LeBron and AD’s invite to come and play in L.A., it could have changed the landscape of the NBA. In that case, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony would likely not be playing for the purple-and-gold this year.

Opportunities like this don’t happen often, so Lillard is courageous for passing it up. At the same time, by rejecting LeBron’s offer, Dame might have said goodbye to winning a title in his career.  

Check out more articles from BasketballNetwork.net here.

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