PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard on Saturday held his first press conference since getting surgery last week for a lower abdominal injury that has bothered him all season.
The surgery has taken him off the court until further notice. He told reporters he will be reevaluated in six to eight weeks.
"Having to step away from the court, step away from my team, I haven't done that since I've been in the league. It was a tough decision, but it was just one of those things ... It had reached a point where my body couldn't do what my mind wanted it to do," Lillard said.
When asked how we was feeling post-surgery, Lillard said he was able to walk out of the hospital on his own, but that it was difficult to say exactly how good he felt because he was still healing.
He said he's been dealing with the injury for a few years, and he couldn't remember the last time it wasn't noticeable.
"The surgeon was telling me, 'how were you playing with this?'" he said.
Lillard said Milwaukie Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday was the first person to convince him he needed surgery when they played together in the Summer Olympics last year. Lillard said Holiday underwent surgery for a similar injury and was able to describe all of his symptoms. He said Holiday told him that he needed to get surgery.
While the recovery timeline is uncertain, Lillard said the feedback he's gotten so far has been optimistic.
"Just going off of the surgeon, the therapist and yoga instructors that I've been working with, they're all telling me every step that we're making are all good signs of me moving in right direction," he said.
He said the last time he had to miss playing time for an injury was during his junior year in college at Weber State University when he broke his foot.
"Just to know I've handled it and I'm able to move forward with the rest of my career, it brings me a lot of peace," he said.
He said right now he's focused on healing, and he's not in a rush to get back on the court.
"My number one goal is to win a championship, and I've got to be in the best form of myself to make that happen," he said.
Portland is currently in 10th place (19-26) in the Western Conference. Without their star player, many pundits anticipate Portland will prioritize the development of its young players, like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, the rest of the season. If the Blazers go in this direction, the franchise would eschew wins and a playoff push and position themselves for a top selection in this summer's NBA draft.