For a minute, Damian Lillard thought he was a Toronto Raptor.
He has OG Anunoby to thank for that.
Lillard spoke with Turner Sports’ Chris Haynes this week from Milwaukee Bucks media day, just days after being traded from the Portland Trail Blazers. He recounted the tale of what appears to have been an anxiety-inducing text he received from the Raptors forward.
The prank Raptors forward OG Anunoby pulled on Bucks star Damian Lillard that shocked him days before actual trade: “Welcome to Toronto.” pic.twitter.com/kSJ4WAAIKv
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 3, 2023
“Everything was up in the air,” Lillard said. “I was on the phone, and I just got a random text from OG like ‘welcome to Toronto.’ He was like ‘welcome to Toronto.’ He’s always messing around and joking and stuff like that. We trained in the summer a little bit.
“I was like let me call this dude and see. I finally called him, and he didn’t answer. Then he called me back, he was laughing. I was like, OK.”
Lillard, of course, was not traded to the Raptors. He’s instead joining Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, concluding his 11-year career in Portland and trade speculation that dominated the NBA offseason.
Haynes said that he was on the phone with Lillard when this all went down. It’s pretty clear that Lillard was not pleased to hear the fake news. Haynes described Lillard’s reaction to the text as “nervous” before yielding the floor to Lillard tell the story.
This all came on the heels of a report that the Raptors had emerged as surprise favorites to land Lillard. Lillard’s camp, meanwhile, had indicated all summer that he was only interested in joining the Miami Heat. He didn’t land in Miami, but Lillard appears more than pleased to have joined a Bucks team that’s on the short list of championship favorites.
A trade to Toronto probably wouldn’t have produced the same reaction from Lillard, who asked out of Portland when it became clear the Trail Blazers were building for the future instead of competing for a title. The Raptors, who finished 41-41 last season and failed to advanced beyond the play-in, aren’t expected to compete for a championship anytime soon. Anunoby knows this.
“He always play like that,” Lillard said while shaking his head.