The Professional Basketball Writers Association has selected Damian Lillard as the winner of their 2016-17 Magic Johnson Award. Each year, the award is given to the player who displays both excellence on the court and cooperation with the media off of it. Members of the PBWA vote on the winner.
Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers has won the 2016-17 Magic Johnson Award, which honors the player who best combines excellence on the basketball court with cooperation and dignity in dealing with the media and the public, the Professional Basketball Writers Association announced today.
Lillard helped the Trail Blazers compile a 41-41 record and earn a Western Conference playoff berth.
He finished the regular season ranked sixth in the NBA scoring, averaging 27.0 points per game. The point guard also averaged 4.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
Off the court, Lillard fostered an atmosphere of mutual respect with the media.
DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks also were finalists for the award.
Members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association selected the winner through a vote.
The PBWA created the Magic Johnson Award in 2001. The association’s members continue to regard Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers as the ideal model for the award.
The PBWA is composed of over 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.
Per Jason Quick of CSNNW:
In Portland, the players treat the media with respect, and only rarely – Maurice Harkless in playoff frustration and CJ McCollum escaping out the door while everyone interviews Lillard -- does a player skip out without talking. Lillard, meanwhile, answers every question after every game, regardless of his performance or the outcome.
“It’s my opportunity to share what is going on, or what I think about something,’’ Lillard said. “That way, I can limit people having to assume things, or make things up. I can explain myself, or share my thoughts. It’s my opportunity to take the stage, so to speak, to say my part.’’
This was Lillard’s third consecutive year as a finalist for the award, landing behind Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors in 2016 and Pau Gasol then of the Chicago Bulls in 2015. He is the second Trail Blazer to win the award since its 2001 inception, following the path of 2009 winner Brandon Roy.