Damian Lillard Discusses How It Feels to Catch Fire in an NBA Game


My brother is a sports psychologist, which comes with some cool perks. My free throw has gotten better after using some of his tricks. I learned all about getting into the same routine before every single foul shot, or tee shot, or any basic athletic maneuver in order to get my muscle memory into good shape. I learned some breathing techniques. While double faulting is something I don't think he'll ever be able to fix, he's helped a lot.

The reason I bring this up is because he's also tirelessly told me about getting into a flow state, or experiencing transient hypofrontality, and it's one of the coolest things I've learned from him about sports psychology. But instead of listening to me ramble, take it from the NBA star who gets hot with perhaps more regularity and intensity than any other: Damian Lillard.

You know, the guy who just dropped 45 points on the Nuggets as the Blazers continue to get closer and closer to a playoff spot. Or the guy who went on one of the hottest streaks in NBA history earlier this season, averaging 48.8 points per game 54.8/57.0/92.3 shooting lines over a six-game span. Or the guy who has hit two of the most remarkable buzzer beaters in NBA playoff history.

You get the idea.

He joined sharpshooter JJ Redick -- a guy who's more than capable of catching fire in his own right -- on Redick's new RADIO.COM podcast, "The Old Man and the Three," and shared what it feels like to be going through that phenomenon of "flow."

"I can have a good game... like our game against Memphis, the first game here, I felt like I had a good game but I wouldn't say I was in the zone," Lillard said. "But I had a stretch this season where, like, I was just... in the zone. I felt like I was scoring 50 points and it wasn't hard at all.

"I have games where I might hit five threes and I'm like 'I'm not in the zone, I just hit five threes.' But in those games, I might hit eight, and I'm just like, every time I shot it, I was like 'it's in, it's in.' "

I'm pretty sure Redick knows the feeling. I recall a game or two when he was a member of my beloved Sixers where he seemed to reach that level.

You know how many girls I could have gotten if I could just shoot a basketball from 28 feet out and know that it was going in every time? Man, what a feeling that must be.

Jesse Pantuosco, my fellow RDC Sports content producer, and I agreed that there may not be another NBA star in the bubble that we'd rather have taking the last shot with the game on the line than Lillard. You can check out more of our insight and banter from our ultimate bubble roster draft here.