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Damian Lillard downplays feud with Russell Westbrook in Instagram post

Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have been known to butt heads on and off the court, but the Portland Trail Blazers superstar insists there is no feud between the two.

The belief that there has been long-simmering animosity between Lillard and Westbrook goes back to at least last season’s playoff series between the Trail Blazers and Westbrook’s then-Oklahoma City Thunder squad.

Since then, the rivalry has been characterized as a bitter feud, but Lillard insists the two have no issues or beefs. Instead, Lillard says the way the two go at each other so aggressively is based upon nothing more than the fierce competitive nature both he and Westbrook possess.

In a post shared by Lillard on Instagram — one that followed his first career triple-double in Wednesday night’s 125-112 victory over Westbrook and the Houston Rockets — the Blazers star put to rest any notion of a feud with a photo of them embracing after the game.

“They confuse competing with hate when it’s ruthless vs ruthless,” Lillard writes, followed by the hashtags #respect and #1stTripleDouble.

Speculation that Lillard and Westbrook simply do not like one another was further fueled this season by how the two engaged in some spirited smack talk during a Blazers-Rockets game back on Jan. 15. Recently recalling the on-court incident, Lillard revealed he delivered an ominous warning to Westbrook about a potential playoff showdown later this year.

According to Lillard, however, such exchanges and the like are simply two cutthroat competitors leaving it all on the court. No hate, no harm, no foul.