As you may have heard, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will be gracing the cover of EA Sports' NBA Live 15. Being a cover athlete is a dream come true for the generation of superstars who grew up on sports titles like Madden NFL, NBA 2K, and NBA Live. It's a symbol of your significance in your respective league. And for a player as young as Lillard, it speaks to his rapid growth in the NBA for him to earn such an honor.
According to NBA Live 15's executive producer Sean O'Brien, Lillard was recognized by EA as "someone who is on the rise," and could embody the franchise's current "underdog" status. The label is fitting for a player who went from a small Division I school to NBA All-Star status in just two seasons. In NBA Live, Lillard will be more than just a name and a face, O'Brien adds. He'll also serve as an in-game narrator and guide, taking new players through the ins and outs of the game when they first turn on their PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Speaking with us about NBA Live, Lillard expressed his excitement about the game, and let us know why you'll need to cop it when the title drops October 7. In addition, Lillard also spoke about his recent experiences with Team USA, as well as his favorite trending topic, 4 Bar Fridays.
So, what does it mean to you to be on the cover of NBA Live 15? Were you a big gamer growing up?
I've always played Live, since way back in the day when Mitch Richmond was on the cover. I started played because my brother was playing, and I've always been a huge fan of sports games. Basketball, football, boxing, stuff like that. To be on the cover is a great honor for me because I use the cover athletes to help people remember what game I'm referring to. Now, when somebody is talking about NBA Live 15, they'll say it's the game that Dame Lillard is on. So, I'm excited about it.
What was your involvement with the making of the game? Were you doing motion capture with them at all?
I did motion capture for one day. I spent the whole day in the arena where they do motion capture just doing all my moves, my crossovers, my shots, everything. They were just trying to get down all my movements. And there was a big screen where I could see my in-game character copying everything I did. So, that was pretty cool to see that it was really capturing everything I did, doing it the exact way that I do. That was tight.
In the past couple years, NBA Live has had some difficulty competing with NBA 2K. What do you think is different about NBA Live 15 that will bring some fans back to the series? What can we expect from the game?
The graphics, I think. Both games have great graphics to begin with, but NBA Live took it up a level this year. Also, one thing that people complained about a lot after last season was the gameplay. It's been fixed. It's a lot better for this game. Just seeing how it looked with the motion capture, from me doing it to the in-game character doing it, I thought that was an upgrade already. It'll be great to see how many original NBA Live fans come back and try this game. Maybe they'll stick with NBA Live when they see how much it's improved.
Let's discuss Team USA a little bit. After the injury to Paul George, did it ever cross your mind to leave the team?
I hated to see that happen to him because I know how hard he worked to become Paul George. It didn't really make me want to not play though. Injuries are a part of the game. Every athlete knows that. Every time we step out onto the court we put ourselves at risk for something to happen like that. It's a part of the game. It can happen anywhere. You can be working out and get hurt. You can be playing pick-up and get hurt. It can happen at anytime.
You just have to be thankful everytime you get out on the court and not take it for granted. There's no way around it.
Looking ahead to the NBA season: You won the Rookie of the Year Award in your first season, and then followed it up last year with an All-Star selection. What's next for you as you get ready for your third season in the league?
To just do it again. I think I've accomplished a lot in my first two seasons. But the great ones are able to repeat it. They're able to keep getting better and do it over and over, things like being an All-Star every year, being in the playoffs every year, being an All-NBA player every year. They're able to do it every year and help their team go. That's what I want to be able to do for my team.
Finally, what can you tell us about 4 Bar Fridays? Who have been your favorite contributors to it so far?
I love 4 Bar Fridays. I love music. In a lot of my downtime, I spend time listening to other people's music or other people's rhymes and writing my own. Sometimes, I just get on Instagram and I'll type in "4 Bar Fridays" and I'll just listen to who can spit, who can't really spit, somebody who had a funny 4 Bar Friday, anything like that.
There's a guy who is on 4 Bar Friday weekly. I don't think he's missed a week. His name is L.E.X. He's probably one of the top ones, if not the top one. There's another girl named Teezy. She can really rap. She's different. And then my cousin, Danny From Sobrante, who grew up in Oakland like myself. I'd say those have been the top three.
Who is your dream contributor to that? Are there any other NBA players you would want to see besides the guys who have already contributed?
I want to see Chris Paul do it. I ask a lot of people to do it. LeBron did it, and that was, like, the ultimate favor to take part in my event. That drew a lot of people to it. So, I appreciated him doing that.
But I'd like to see a lot more rappers do it. J. Cole is my favorite rapper, I'd like to see him do it. I'd like to see Juvenile. I'd like to see a lot of guys who are actual rappers get on and do it.
Would you ever want to be involved with the music industry after your basketball career is over? Could you ever see yourself trying to start a record label or a music career?
When I get done playing basketball, I'm definitely not going to be a rapper. I'm not going to be an old person who is focused on being a rapper [laughs]. But right now, people are aware of who I am. They know me. I think it's the perfect time to show people that I'm not just a basketball player, and that I'm capable of doing other things. I have other ideas that I want to people to be aware of and that I want to throw out there to the public. Music is just one of them.