Damian Lillard Covers NBA Live ’15

With the hoops season set to tip in fewer than two weeks, we spoke with NBA Live ’15 cover star and former NBA Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard.

EA Sports’ 18th installment in the “NBA Live” series, which drops on October 28, is looking to cash in on the sky-rocketing popularity of the Portland Trail Blazer’s point guard, while also enticing fans with unparalleled realism and a hot new soundtrack.

Lillard, an avid sports’ gamer, rising star and hip-hop aficionado seems to be the perfect fit to carry the banner for the video game franchise. He’s been everywhere this off-season, following a walk-off buzzer beater that downed the Rockets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last spring.

Baller on the court? Check. Rap fan? Most definitely.

“When I’m driving to the arena, I’m usually listening to older stuff, like NAS, Ma$e or Juvenile,” Lillard says.

Lillard, whose favorite pre-game jam is “400 Degreez” by Juvenile, also vouched for the soundtrack accompanying this year’s game.  Artists in Live include Jeezy, Chuck Inglish and Phantogram. Lillard’s favorite track comes from a younger rapper on the rise in the ATL.

“My favorite track is definitely K Camp with ‘Money Baby,’” He explained, “I’m into lyricists, somebody with great spit who is telling a story.  I’m not really interested in something you dance to.”

Just as K Camp comes after a long line of Atlanta rappers, Lillard follows in the footsteps of the great Oakland point guards of yesteryear.  Brian Shaw, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton were all local legends in Oakland basketball circles before finding great success in the NBA.  Lillard is honored to even be mentioned in the same breathe as these Oakland legends.

“I’m just trying to be a part of the bigger tradition, their body of work is bigger than mine. But we’re all from Oakland and I take great pride in being from Oakland,” shares Lillard.  While their paths to the NBA have been different, Lillard confirmed a unifying trait among all four players.

“Toughness is the biggest thing,” he says. “They say if you can make it in Oakland, you can make it anywhere.  Honestly, coming from Oakland, the other environments have been a piece of cake.”

Lillard continues to carry that toughness with him and he wears it on his chest … literally.  He chose the number zero, to represent his journey from Oakland to Ogden, Utah (Weber State University) to Oregon where he plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

In two weeks Lillard will be joining another fraternity, one that includes the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dwyane Wade–all NBA Live cover stars. The cerebral Lillard understands the added pressure.

“Anytime you make the cover of something it raises expectations,” he admits. “Especially coming off a playoff series win where I hit that shot in dramatic fashion, when you add in the game, commercials–yeah it raises expectations.”

If the renowned Oakland point guards who came before him are any indication, the added pressure will only bring out the best in the young star. It’s appropriate that Lillard inked a massive sponsorship deal with Adidas last April because, as their tagline states, “No Pressure, No Diamonds.”