Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.
Playoffs, Round 1, Week 2, April 21-27: Game 4 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (W), Game 5 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (W)
Of all the things there are to like about the team this week, Damian Lillard’s 50-point game winner was the obvious favorite but he had a lot of good company: Al-Farouq Aminu played a tremendous game on Sunday, with 19 points and nine rebounds. Despite a shoulder injury, Enes Kanter put up 13 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday’s close-out game. Moe Harkless brought energy every night, averaging 11 points, seven rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks throughout the first round, with three momentum-building dunks in Game Five. In the closing moments of the final game, Seth Curry forced a dramatic turnover, CJ McCollum tied the game with 22 ft pullup jumper and Aminu corralled a key rebound.
And of course, Damian Lillard hit The Shot.
All of those things have been covered extensively in traditional and social media this past week while we waited to find out who Trail Blazers’ would play in the second round. Instead of going over these stories one more more time, I decided to do something different.
I turned to a variety of people to find out exactly what Lillard’s latest masterpiece meant to them. We all watched the same shot, but what did we take away? I talked to fans, media members, team executives and even unaffiliated basketball junkies to find out what their reactions were to Lillard’s walk-off three-point shot.
Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest was thinking about Game Six before Lillard saved them from another long flight to Oklahoma. Brooke Olzendam, the Trail Blazers sideline reporter, remembered observing Damian Lillard in the chaotic moments immediately after the game ended.
I just kind of wanted to take this all in and look around and watch Dame high-fiving the fans. I mean, of course you remember the dog pile, but after that he had a moment with his brother and his sister, but then he went around and had a moment with everyone the front row. So as that was happening, I kind of just watched it and enjoyed it.
Some people told personal stories about memories that The Shot brought up. Charlene remembered a sad flight to Liberia after last year’s playoff sweep. Now she has the memory of watching Lillard make franchise history with her son, Arinze. As for Arinze, he was not only thrilled with the shot, but remembers how happy he was to see Jusuf Nurkic:
I think what I’ll remember the most is just to see Nurk. To see that he was making a recovery, or taking that first step to making a full recovery. So that kind of relief and just happiness, as well as the shot.
Decades-long fan Janis talked about how Lillard’s shot this week tempered the memory of her mother’s death. She had missed the .9 shot because she was out of town at her mother’s funeral. When that shot plays, she has bittersweet memories of that time in her life because she was so glad that the Blazers won but sad that her mother was gone.
So then as they played [the .9 shot] over the years I kept thinking, you know, it reminded me, not of that joyous moment, but of burying my mother. So my first thought was like “Oh, thank heavens, there’s a story. It’s superseded the .9 shot.” So I’d like to thank Damian Lillard for making the shot and superseding that scenario.
Lillard’s big moment reminded Keith of the shots he’d practiced himself:
Those are plays that we dreamed of as kids. At least when I was a kid . . . You know, you got the ball in your hand, you want to win it . . . seeing what Dame did, it was like, you know he’s probably played that in his mind over a million times.
Others remember the confidence that Damian Lillard projected throughout the series, and how that confidence was reflected by his demeanor at the end of the game. Blazers Outsider Shain Brenden said:
You know, if Westbrook were to hit a shot like that he would have been doing back flips, jumping up and down, giving everyone in the room the finger or whatever. But Dame [did it] in in typical Dame style which is very composed and straight to the point. Goodbye. Wave. Get out of here. Leave my city. We’re done here. And of course the iconic just staring right into the camera like, like, what else?
You will hear all these stories and more, about attending the game with friends, how Jody Allen enjoyed the scene, game-viewing superstitions, Blazers talk on the MAX train and even a story from Down Under. I hope you enjoy listening to this oral history of Lillard’s big shot and the Trail Blazers big win as much as I enjoyed making it.
Thank you so much to the following Trail Blazers friends, fans and family for contributing to this history:
00:02 Brooke Olzendam, Trail Blazers Sideline Reporter
05:55 Charlene and Arinze, mother and son, Blazers Fans for life, season ticket holders
11:59 Janis, fan and season ticket holder
14:27 Jamie Hudson, NBC Sports Northwest Trail Blazers reporter
17:01 Michael Lewellen, Vice President of Corporate Communications for the Portland Trail Blazers and the Rose Quarter
22:33 Dillon Sage, Co-host, Holy Backboard Podcast
24:58 Ashwin, long-suffering Timberwolves fan
28:33 Adrian Bernecich Blazers’ Edge writer, Melbourne, Australia
30:50 Vanesa, Bosnian fan of the Trail Blazers
34:14 Shain Brendan, Co-host, Blazers Outsiders
What will you remember most about Lillard’s final shot of round 1? What will he achieve in round 2? Let us know in the comments below!
xoxo Team Mom (@tcbbiggs)