How Damian Lillard's Love for Wrestling Got Him a Sneaker With Ric Flair

In an exclusive interview with Complex, Ric Flair and Damian Lillard talk about the WWE and wrestling, their upcoming Adidas Dame 7 collab and more.

Ric Flair Damian Lillard
Complex Original

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Ric Flair Damian Lillard

"You're going to have to let me borrow that robe back there, man," Damian Lillard tells Ric Flair to kick off our Zoom conversation. 

"Huh?" Flair responds.

"I say, let me borrow that robe back there, I need one of those so I can wear it to the game, man," the NBA Bubble MVP echoes. 

"We'll get you one. We got one for you, only if I get to be courtside," the 16-time WWE World Champion jokingly says back. 

As a lifelong fan of both the WWE and the NBA, this is like a dream come true. It's a random Thursday night in the middle of quarantine and I get to hop on a Zoom call with a two-time WWE Hall of Famer and a likely future NBA Hall of Famer. We talk about their upcoming Adidas Dame 7 collab, the similarities and differences in their careers, and much more. Little did I know, the two of them would conduct the vast majority of the interview on their own and I'd get to sit back and watch.

Much like myself, Lillard is a huge fan of the WWE, which his fans have seen through a number of his pregame tunnel outfits, as well as an homage to Stone Cold Steve Austin by way of a "Dame 3:16" colorway of the Dame 6.

Now, Lillard, Flair, and Adidas have made things official with a duo of robe-inspired Dame 7s. A blue version hit stores on Nov. 1 and a second white and gold colorway is slated to drop Dec. 15. For a bit more on that and a lot more amazing conversation between two icons, check out the interview below.

(This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Damian, I just want to start with you. You're obviously a huge fan of the WWE. We've seen it on your sneakers in the past. We've seen it in the tunnel. What's it like to be working on this project with Ric Flair? A lot of people consider that man the GOAT. 

Lillard: Man, especially like '90s, I don't know if it's a bigger wrestling fan than me. I used to watch Monday Nitro and then that went right into Raw. Later on that night, I watched that back to back, both two hour shows. And to me, that was arguably the best time for wrestling, because you had a lot of the attitude era in WWF. And then in WCW you had almost a new age of stars, but you still had Ric. You still had Hulk Hogan. You still had Sting. You almost had, like, two eras together. And then even Hollywood Hogan in WCW. Hollywood Hogan, he was in the NWO. You had Razor Ramon who was Scott Hall in the WCW. And then you had Diesel who was Kevin Nash. I was just loving that whole eight, nine-year run. To me, that was the best time. I had every action figure. I had rings. I had belts. I had all that stuff. But to be able to do these collabs with these different wrestlers who I used to look up to. I just loved every show. You know what I'm saying? To be able to do this is an honor, man.

And then Ric, same question for you. What's it like to get to work with a player the caliber of Damian?

Flair: Well to me, it's not arguable. I don't know how you measure it, by statute or whatever. But he's one of the top 10 players in the league obviously, and arguably top five. And he put on a show in the playoffs, in the first round. And he made a statement on a team that he's not surrounded by a superstar. So anyway, to answer your question. For me, at my age now, or at any age, to know that I did something that was not by design or was not intentional, but it influenced people like Snoop Dogg. And when I went to see LeBron one time, he said I was the founder of swag. And I didn't think about any of that.

When I was doing it, I was just having such a good time. And I'm always like, "Man, I suppose." Have you ever been to Friedman's here in Atlanta when the Trail Blazers come to town? It's the greatest. That's since 1978. Like I said, you weren't born, but I spend a lot of money on clothes and jewelry. But I just was having fun. And to think that I've impressed people and it's not what I did as a wrestler. For me, it's having my kids and my wife, have Damian Lillard go, "Hey, Ric Flair is cool." And that's bigger than wrestling to me now. My daughter being involved, that's obviously the biggest part for me now. But to be recognized by someone like you of your stature, it's like when Offset, we did the "Ric Flair Drip" up thing. Having you shout me out is as big as anything I've ever done.

Lillard: For sure, man.

Flair: And because of sports, it means a little bit more than the music. And I love all the musicians that have paid tribute to me. But because I like basketball, I go back to Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas and Clyde. Yeah. I mean, that was a phenomenal era. I've met Clyde. I never met Maurice Lucas. I've seen Bill on a plane, but I never had a chance to talk to him. But I was a huge fan.

Lillard: Man, funny story, I have some stuff to do in New York, and I was on a plane, and I saw Stephanie McMahon and Triple H on the plane. So I'm telling my boy. I'm like, "Man, that's Triple H right there and Stephanie McMahon. That's Vince McMahon's daughter." And I usually don't trip out. I see people all the time. But when I saw him, I was like, "I think that's them back there."

Flair: Did you say hi to them?

Lillard: So I'm going to tell you, after we get off the plane, we go to baggage claim. And I keep looking over there because I'm about to say, "Can I get a picture?" And I can tell Triple H was trying to avoid eye contact with me, like a fan. You know when you ain't really in the mood to deal with nobody that's a fan, you try to avoid the interaction. And he was just trying to avoid me. And my boy was like, "Man, go tell him you play in the NBA." And I didn't even say nothing. And I was like, "Man, I'm cool." But I was on a flight with him and Stephanie McMahon, so it was tight. It was tight, but I didn't even get to meet him.

Flair: Well, I'll see him Sunday. I'll let him know.

Lillard: So who was your favorite? Who was your favorite when you were wrestling?

Flair: Well, my favorite, believe it or not, of all time is your favorite. Stone Cold.

Lillard: Stone Cold. Woo!

Flair: I mean, I'll tell you he was the guy. I mean, there have been some big, big stars. Hulk and Rock and Stone Cold. But I think I've been told that he's your favorite.

Lillard: Yeah, I love Stone Cold. That whole Attitude Era was crazy. They had all that. They had The Hart Foundation. They had—what was the other one? The Nation of Domination. Yeah, Ron Simmons.

Flair: I used to see them a lot. Maybe once a month, about 10 other guys at Comic-Con. But with all the COVID-19, I don't see them as much, but I'll see Taker and Nash and Triple H Sunday. I'm going to Survivor Series for the farewell of Taker.

Lillard: I think for my next wrestling shoe, I think I want to do a—I got an idea I haven't shared it, but I think I want to do Undertaker and Kane.

Flair: Oh yeah.

Lillard: I want to do the package with one versus the other.

Flair: Yeah, they would love that. I'll see Taker. We got to trade numbers so we can stay in touch.

Lillard: Yeah, for sure.

A major theme of the Dame 7 is the term "visionary," and the meaning behind the word. So I wanted to get your twos' take on what the term visionary means to you.

Lillard: To me, it's just being able to see things for what you want them to be, and to just try to create the process or create whatever you need to create for that to come to life. But I think the biggest thing is seeing it before or regardless if somebody else sees it or not, and just finding a way. Being creative in that process and being true to that process and to yourself and how you make that come to life, with confidence in it, and with trust in it. So that's what my definition would be.

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