Damian Lillard should be more angry.
A stellar point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard has always had an amazing composure through thick and thin with the only NBA team he knows. He is willing to concede defeat, as shown after his meltdown loss to .
Lillard said at a press conference after his team took a 25-point lead at halftime, “I’m confused as to why you’re asking me these questions now.” I asked him how much more patience he had.
Lillard’s voice sharpened, and tension echoed throughout the room. His eyes felt like they were shooting lasers through me.
“It’s clear that we’ve struggled so far,” he said, adding that Portland is “transparent” about how it can improve.
He went on to call the question a “weak move” and indicated that he thought he was being coaxed into criticizing his team’s composition as the league’s trade deadline was looming. It puts me in a position to answer questions that I don’t think are cool,” he said.
After that, I had another exchange with Lillard. In a brief moment of reconciliation, his character is revealed. More on that later. First, let’s once again focus on everything swirling around the Portland star.
Lillard is the NBA’s most interesting outlier.
“He’s one of a kind,” said Chauncey Billups, who played nearly 20 years in the NBA and is now the Blazers’ second-year head coach.
Billups isn’t just talking about talent. Lillard is the rare basketball star who values loyalty to his city and team above all else.
Billups said, “I understand how lucky we are to have him. ‘Everybody in this city and on this team wants to win for Dame.'”
The problem is, the Blazers are basketball rivals to the rugged Honda Accord. For nearly all of Lillard’s 11 seasons in the NBA, Portland has been a mediocre operation.
It defies common sense that Lillard would never ask for a trade or choose to leave, staying with a team that appears to be sticking to neutrals.
The 32-year-old was a six-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA team selection. He was voted into the league’s 75th anniversary team, which aims to honor the 75 greatest players in the league’s history. Acquisition. Full of feline quickness, grace and the bold brio characteristic of his native Oakland, California, Lillard recently overtook Clyde Drexler to become Portland’s leading career scorer.
Still, the Blazers have only reached the Western Conference finals once while Lillard was in Portland. The current Blazers are talented and he is one of the youngest teams in the league. Billups is learning on the job. If this team becomes a true contender for Westerns in his conference, it may not be until Lillard goes downhill.
is that okay?
Last week provided us with a window into Lillard’s world. A week ago on Sunday: His 121-112 meltdown loss by the Lakers.
Portland’s post-game locker room was like a morgue. On the concourse of Modahi Center, the Blazers’ saucer-shaped arena, fans shared more about the team’s losing legacy. The Blazers wrote on his Facebook page for his fans, “Lillard needs to build a career to take his chances before it’s too late. This team is done!!”
The next day, the Blazers defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 147-127. Lillard has 37 points and 12 assists.
Then came Wednesday. Peak Lillard. one for the book. In the Blazers’ 134-124 win against the Utah Jazz, he scored his 60 points and posted a staggering 72% of his shots.
What was remarkable was how easy it looked. Lillard, who averages 30 points a season, has never faced the Jazz. He played what he later described as an “honest game”, always making the right passes, moving the ball to the right place and pulling up to shoot at exactly the right time. When jazz players swarmed him, he looked like a buzzing wasp at a summer barbecue that everyone wanted to stomp but nobody could catch.
Freshness? you bet According to ESPN, it was his most efficient 60-point game in league history after considering shot attempts combined with marksmanship on free throws. This shocked Lillard and made everyone smile.
“Is it really the most efficient 60-point game ever?” he said. “It’s crazy.”
Lillard maintained his blistering pace on Saturday, again posting a scoring average for the season, but the injury-stricken Blazers lost gently to the Toronto Raptors. He is doing all he can, but in vain. The Blazers are just mediocre at 23-26, 12th out of his 15 teams in the West.
Like many, I often thought Lillard’s prime was wasted, so Portland should do the right thing for him and find a way to move him to a competing team. He’s approaching his mid-30s — the year hardwood courts become quicksand for sly point guards — and a new breed of young star is wreaking havoc across the NBA.
Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, and many other 20-something talents are leaving the league with their skill and something close to Lillard’s supernatural confidence.
Lillard’s NBA life is going to get tougher.
But I’d like to reconsider my desire to see him leave Portland. Sadly, that’s what helped fuel the Whipsaw superstar’s shuffle, running from Cleveland to Miami, back to Cleveland to Los Angeles, and now NBA’s LeBron He James. James Harden from Houston to Brooklyn to Philadelphia. Example after example. I understand the sentiment of “better than anything”, “grass is greener everywhere but here” — and I question it.
Winning is important, no doubt. But isn’t sport more than winning?
More than any other NBA star, Lillard embodies the idea that the journey — the often painful road to getting better — matters. It takes guts, patience, and the ability to go against things. he has it It also requires some kind of awareness of skillful passes and clutches his shots and even how a player handles life off the court. In fact, he seems to have it too.
Remember how Lillard stood on his hands at my question after the loss to Los Angeles?
He stopped me, shook my hand, and looked me straight in the eye. He said he was sorry for the scolding response. The look on his face showed genuine sincerity.
“I didn’t mean personal disrespect,” he said.
Which star would do it? Not many. “I’m sorry” isn’t usually in playbooks. But there aren’t many like Damien Lillard.