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Doc Rivers: Damian Lillard Was In “Worst Shape” Ever Before Trade

Doc Rivers Damian Lillard
(Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

Doc Rivers: Damian Lillard Was In “Worst Shape” Ever Before Trade

According to Milwuakee Bucks coach Doc Rivers, Damian Lillard barely worked out before entering the 2023-2024 season.

Doc Rivers has never been one to keep quiet about his player’s troubles. According to the Bucks head coach, Damian Lillard‘s conditioning was awful heading into the 2023-2024 season. Doc claims Lillard told him he was “scared of getting injured working out”, and admitted to being in “the worst shape I’ve ever been in”. By the time the season began, Lillard was too far behind the curve to catch up. “When you start camp that way, you don’t ever get in shape…you never catch up.”

It’s hard to figure out why Doc is bringing this up now. Though Lillard has referenced his poor conditioning publicly before, this reads like a conversation the player assumed would stay between him and his coach. Conversations like this are about building trust, and to me, it looks like Doc might have violated that. Doc has a history of throwing people under the bus, and this could easily be interpreted as one of those moments. However, Lillard does have an obligation to bring his best game. I understand being worried about injuries, but that’s no excuse to let yourself fall so far. I think they can both do better.

However, I do have some sympathy for Lillard at this moment. Being traded to a new team after a decade and working through a “messy” divorce will certainly take a toll on anybody. It seems that Lillard was correct to worry about his physical health, as well. The 33-year-old missed two playoff games this year due to an injured Achilles. Combine this with the fact that Milwuakee’s record plummeted after Doc’s arrival (32-14 before, 17-19 after), and you start to understand why Doc has coached so many teams and won so little.


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