In May of 2017, the Professional Basketball Writers Association chose Damian Lillard to win the Magic Johnson Award, given annually to a player who displays excellence on the court and cooperates with the media. Tonight, Lillard will accept his award ahead of the Trail Blazers’ matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The award is well-deserved. Lillard is not only the Trail Blazers’ vocal leader on the floor, he is the most insightful off of it. He provides full, detailed answers to all kinds of questions and is seldom unavailable to speak. His accommodation makes reading about the Trail Blazers and writing about the Trail Blazers a pleasurable experience. With Lillard, there is no digging for the “money” quote. Entire interviews are golden, and he’s willing to discuss just about any topic raised.
Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest articulates why this matters to you, the fans:
Nobody on the Blazers – and probably nobody in my nearly two decades covering this team – has given fans more insight into himself, and his teammates, than Lillard.
In his interviews, he has taken you inside the team plane.
He has taken you to San Diego for a preseason team bonding session.
He has almost placed you inside the locker room for team meetings, and he has given you such insight into so many of his teammates you would think he was their agent.
And mostly, he has opened up himself, and allowed you all to see what is inside his mind, and more so, inside his heart.
A franchise player that creates a viewing experience is one thing, but bringing an audience in to not only watch but be a part of his journey—the team’s journey—as well, is another. So take a moment tonight to appreciate what this award symbolizes; it is recognition of the connection that Lillard makes with his teammates, the local media, and the fans that makes Portland basketball what it is today.