Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated has written a piece on Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, mixing some background about his childhood in Oakland with some scenes from Portland's recent blowout victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Lillard is the product of a different time -- more of a sniper than his predecessors, less of a stopper -- but the same hard-bitten place. "You learn the history, and you learn that Oakland carries weight," he says. "It means you don't get scared. You want to play one-on-one? We can do that. You want to fight after a game at the park with your cousins? I guess we can do that too."
"He is an incredibly humble kid from a good family," says Portland GM Neil Olshey. "He has a small-school sensibility and is active in the community. But the moment he steps on the court, he is a point guard from Oakland who will rip out your heart to win a game." When the Blazers trail deep in the fourth quarter and Lillard's expression turns to a snarl, forward Dorell Wright often asks, "You good, man?" Lillard fixes him with a hard stare. "No, I ain't good," he replies. "This stops here."
"I've been in the NBA 13 years, and this is the first place where I've never heard anybody complain about shots," says backup point guard Earl Watson. "Things are going on here that don't happen anywhere else things that are against the laws of sports."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter