You had to figure that, with Damian Lillard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons all in Las Vegas for the USA Basketball tryouts, the the topic of Portland’s first-round playoff series victory versus Houston would eventually come up. And sure enough, while at dinner Monday night, the conversation turned to Lillard’s series-clinching buzzer-beater over Parsons and the barbs traded by players on both teams during the series, which featured three games that went into overtime.
“We talked about it last night,” said Lillard. “The first thing they both — James asked me and (Parsons) asked me — was: ‘Did I know if it was going in?’ Lillard said Tuesday after Day 2 of the USA Basketball training camp. “I said: ‘Yeah.’ And then after that we just talked about the whole series. I told (Parsons), ‘Y’all kind of pissed us off because it came back to us that you was like ‘I’m definitely the best small forward in the series and we deserve to win.’ And I was like, ‘That’s not true.’ … I mean, we laughed about it. What happened, what’s done is done. We did what we had to do.”
Parsons, who has since signed a lucrative three-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks, told Lillard that his quote about being the best small forward in the series, had been misreported, though he did admit that there was plenty of bulletin board fodder put out by both teams.
“Damian, he’s a great player, he’s one of my close friends,” said Parsons. “So obviously last night, with how that series ended last year, we were talking about the whole series and all the trash talking that was going back and forth … That’s playoff basketball. At the end of the day, it’s nothing personal. We’re all competitors, we all want to win, we all think we’re the best. At the end of the day, trash talking is just part of the game.”
Parson admits that what really hurt wasn’t the trash talking; it was the shot Lillard hit with 0.9 seconds to play in Game 6, which catahas since been replayed millions of times will likely forever live as one of the great shots in Trail Blazers history.
“It still hurts, but it’s a good chance to come out here in a setting like this and get to know these guys,” said Parsons, “I’m going to live with that shot the rest of my life.”
Other players participating in the USA Basketball tryouts have also asked Lillard about the shot, though their most frequent query is one Lillard isn’t qualified to answer.
Said Lillard: “Everybody around here that says something, they’re just like, ‘Of all the people y’all would let near the catch, why would you let him get the ball right there?’”
(By the way, Harden declined to discuss Lillard’s shot with the media, which you can’t really blame him for.)