Rip City knows why Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers wears the letter 0: it stands for Oakland, Ogden, and Oregon. In a recent piece by Christopher Kamrani of the Salt Lake Tribune, Lillard’s years in Ogden receive a closer look. According to Kamrani, Lillard’s experience at Weber State, where he was coached by Randy Rahe, changed him from a player from East Oakland with a lot of potential into a certified league-ready superstar.
Of course. The Shot personifies Lillard, a once underestimated, underappreciated guard from East Oakland who knew that there was so much more within himself. While Oakland made him, it was Ogden that eventually transformed Lillard into the player who not only took the big shots, but so often sunk them. He became the player, who in a 36-point performance at Saint Mary’s in the Bay Area in 2011, tugged on Randy Rahe’s shirt out of a timeout and said, “Coach, give me the [expletive] ball.”
Kamrani outlines how Weber State shaped Lillard’s career path, and how he left a mark on the institution that will be there for decades to come. Even still, Lillard returns to Ogden when he needs to ground himself, and he did so last summer following the playoff sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans.
So when he needed some time to decompress and re-center, he came back to Ogden, laced up his sneakers and worked on attacking various traps in the pick-and-roll. He did so on the court inside the Dee Events Center as the summertime temperatures outside rose. His break from basketball was to find what led to his team breaking down. It led him back to Ogden.
The people who worked with Lillard at Weber State acknowledge that he never forgets what others have done for him. During his jersey retirement ceremony, Lillard thanked the staff who had opened the gym for him at odd hours. Here and now, it reminds Rip City as to why Lillard is the face of our franchise.
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