During the Tokyo Olympics, when Damian Lillard’s abdominal injury flared up, Jrue Holiday suggested it was time for surgery.
Lillard finally took his fellow Olympian’s advice and had the procedure Jan. 13. The Trail Blazers’ star point guard spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since the injury sidelined him on Jan. 3.
Holiday, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, had similar core surgery during the 2018-19 season when he was with New Orleans. He and Lillard were teammates in Japan last summer on the gold medal-winning U.S. team.
“He was the first person that pretty much confirmed that I needed to have surgery because I sat out of practice one day and I was like, ‘I can’t move,’ and I was kind of just holding it. And he just started describing every single symptom,” Lillard said. “And he was like ‘I had it.’”
Lillard, a six-time All-Star, averaged 24 points and 7.3 assists in 29 games this season for the Blazers. It was clear from the start that the injury, lower abdominal tendinopathy, was bothersome.
“It was just one of those things where I’ve always had control over how I moved and everything, and it had reached a point where my body couldn’t do what my mind wanted it to do, and go places that I wanted it to go,” he said. “At some point you’ve got to play chess, you’ve got to make decisions that suit you for the long haul and not just right now.”
While the injury flared up in Tokyo, Lillard said he first felt the abdominal pain in 2015 and it had been gradually getting worse ever since.