Damian Lillard He credits his coaches, mentors, family, and friends for guiding him on his way from Oakland, California, to the NBA.
He’s now sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way with a select group of 40 high school and college basketball players through a camp he developed called Formula Zero.
“Formula” refers to the set of effects that helped develop Portland Trail Blazers Six times all-stars and “zero” refers to his jersey number.
His first year of camp started on Thursday at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA and ends on Saturday. On Friday, Lillard explained the origin and mission of his camp, which features key figures from across his life as coaches and mentors.
“The reason we called it Formula Zero is because it’s something that we’ve discovered is just a formula from things I’ve collected or obtained from a lot of people over my life,” Lillard said. “People who have coached me, people who have had an impact on my life, shared something with me or pushed me to be a certain way, are doing certain things that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own.”
Lillard said the idea for the camp came a few years ago when his longtime coach, Phil Beckner, encouraged him to get more outspoken and share more about his experiences during off-season training at Webber State that included Blazers guard Anvernee Simmons and Phoenix forward Michael Bridges.
It got to the point where Phil was like, ‘You have to share more,’ Lillard said.
Lillard refused at first because he did not want to believe that he knew everything. But after taking some time to think about it, Lillard said he realized the value of passing on what he had learned from others.
Lillard said it took a few years to develop the camp because he wanted to do it the right way.
Among the camp coaches who played an integral role in Lillard’s life: Raymond Young, who trained Lillard at Al Ain University from middle school onwards. Chris Farr, who coached Lillard as a child and through the NBA draft process in 2012. Beckner, a famous basketball coach who has worked with Lillard since arriving at Webber State. Former Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool.
“It’s people who are the formula,” Lillard said. “People who have touched me in ways that made me who you guys know. I am just a product of these people.”
Also in camp were Bridges, Simmons, and former Blazers Evan Turner and Chris Kaman.
The camp houses many elite recruits, including David Castilloa five-star guard from Bartlesville High School in Oklahoma; Jamary Phillips five-star guard from Modesto Christian in Oakland, California; Simeon Welchera five-star guard from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey; worms thomas jr., A four-star guard who graduated from Liberty High School in Nevada. And the Diallo Zooma four-star guard from Curtis Senior High School in Washington.
Lillard said that while many campers have the potential to get into the NBA, he wants them to learn lessons that can help keep them there longer and prepare them for other aspects of their lives.
“It’s not going to be your talent or your ability because everybody has that,” Lillard said. “It will be your character, work ethic, how you treat people, how consistent you are, how selfless you are, how humble you are, how disciplined you are. All of those things have led me to be that way by different people over the course of my life.”
To make those points clear, Lillard said he wanted the audience to see him more as someone who learned from mistakes rather than as a sports star who figured it all out.
“I want them to feel connected to me because of who I am,” he said. “And I hope it affects them in a way that makes them better and makes their parents’ lives easier.”
Beckner said that Lillard’s level of discipline helped him succeed and that coaches in camp wanted to influence players to adopt the same level of commitment.
“We have here exceptional college-level and high-school-level players, kids he’ll be competing with in a couple of years,” Beckner said. And we want to give them the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly, whatever it is.”