Gary Payton defends Damian Lillard’s trade request to Miami Heat with powerful argument'
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Former Miami Heat guard Gary Payton had some wise words for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard about his desire to play for the Heat.

Payton, who played for the Heat for two seasons, including the 2005-06 season, won a title with Miami against the Dallas Mavericks.

“Everybody should chase a championship,” Payton said. “Why are we playing basketball? That is the whole object of playing basketball. If you want to go somewhere else if you’ve got a chance to win a championship, go there. And that’s what I saw when I came to Miami. So I came here, look what happened.”

A Hall of Famer, Payton had come up short in his quest for a title at other destinations, playing for the Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics prior to coming to Miami.

The nine-time All-Star and 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year played mainly a bench role for the Heat in the 2005-06 campaign, starting just 25 of the 81 regular season games that he appeared in.

However, Payton accomplished his career goal of becoming an NBA champion.

It appears Lillard wants to do the same after several seasons of coming up short with the Blazers. Portland did make a Western Conference Finals appearance with Lillard on the roster, but the last two seasons have not gone as well with the team missing the playoffs altogether.

During the 2022-23 season, Lillard was great for the Blazers, but the team failed to even make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. A seven-time All-NBA selection, Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

There’s no doubt that Lillard would bring a much-needed scoring punch to Miami’s roster, and the team could use him after losing Gabe Vincent and Max Strus this offseason.

The Heat have made the NBA Finals in two of the last four seasons, going to the Eastern Conference Finals in three of those four seasons.

The team is close to winning a title, and Lillard could be the missing piece to help Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo take Miami to the promised land.

Payton clearly believes in chasing a championship, and he seems grateful that he chose the Heat to get the job done.

It’s possible Lillard could find himself following a similar path if he’s traded to Miami this offseason.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.