Damian Lillard got it pretty well, and now he’s trying to pass on what he’s learned to the next generation.
Last week, Lillard, his longtime coach Phil Beckner and a host of current and former teammates, coaches and coaches who all helped the guard 6-3 on his journey from little-known high school player from Oakland to an NBA All -Star, hosted a group of high school and college players at the first “Formula Zero” camp in Beaverton.
But unlike most camps, the main goal of “Formula Zero” isn’t to make players better at basketball – at least not skill-wise – but better people. Increasingly, Lillard wonders if the next generation is ready to succeed, not just in basketball, but in life, so he and Beckner came up with “Formula Zero” to address some of those issues.
“I’ve seen interviews with kids in high school where someone asked them, ‘Which team would you like to play for?’ and they like ‘I want to go to a good situation where the ball is in my hands’,” Lillard said. “I never would have said that when I was a kid, I would have said ‘I want to win a national championship .’ It’s just different, and this camp is about changing that kind of thought process. It’s not humility, it’s a lot of fake humility where people know how to play the role but they don’t have people around them who show them how to be and how to handle things so that this just be natural, that’s what they think. It’s what they think and feel so they don’t have to pretend.
So, in a world that increasingly incentivizes self-promotion, compartmentalization, performative humility, and taking the path of least resistance, Lillard and the team at “Formula Zero” want to prepare players for what happens when talent alone isn’t enough, both in basketball and life.
“All these people who cling to them, want this, kiss their ass and put them in a position where they feel empowered,” Lillard said when explaining the origins of the “Formula Zero” camp. “Their mentality is messed up with what it’s going to be and having to earn stuff and having to work, take criticism, listen and be coachable and stuff like that. It puts them in a position where those things, it lets them down when they walk into a professional environment and their talent can’t pass them by.
While he’s certainly not the only player from an unfamiliar background to achieve great things in the NBA, Lillard sees himself as a role model for how character, hard work and responsibility can empower anyone. one with less talent to outperform those with more, both on and off the pitch.
“I want to help these kids who — a lot of them, they’ve ranked, they’ve got all these Instagram followers — I want to help them have what’s not just a talent, it’s not given to them,” Lillard said. “I’m not the most talented – I’m 6-2, I’m not jumping out of the gym, there’s more talent, there are gifted players out there – but it would be hard for all of you to find someone. ‘one who is sharper and more disciplined than me mentally and someone who is tougher and sharper and better and more compassionate than me in their hearts. It’s something that’s been instilled in me all my life and that people have encouraged. It’s all part of this camp.
And the camp is just the beginning, as Lillard, Beckner and “Formula Zero” staff members will continue to provide mentorship throughout the year. Some of these players will surely go on to successful careers in college, and a few may even join Lillard one day in the NBA, although the goal of “Formula Zero” is to prepare these young men for the sequel, no matter if it’s at home, in the wider squad or on the pitch.
“These same people have done this with so many other kids who have become good people and have good jobs and good lives because they have the same values and the same principles,” Lillard said. “If I can get all of these people and myself to pass this on to these kids now when they’re in 10th, 11th, 12th, in college and it gives them a better chance to advance, then why not not do it? That’s what we’re here for. »