The scene in Los Angeles prior to the Trail Blazers and Lakers matchup featured a tear-filled remembrance of those that passed on Sunday. Damian Lillard, through his 48-point performance, honored Kobe Bryant’s legacy with his imposing play on the court.
After the game, Lillard spoke with Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes about the bond he had with Bryant. The Oakland native highlighted the support he received from the Lakers legend during the 2014 All-Star Game. Lillard, who competed in five events that weekend, was glued to the bench for the majority of the showcase’s finale. His lack of time on the court did not go unnoticed and Bryant offered words of encouragement.
“You f---ing belong here [as an All-Star],” Lillard said Bryant told him. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be with everyone here. You’re an All-Star. Just keep working young fella.”
Lillard explained how important it was to hear those comments directly from a player like Bryant.
“For me, I’ve never sought out validation and I’ve never needed it ... but when it came from him, it was just different. It hit different to me,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “I appreciated that more because of just the history of growing up a fan, idolizing him and then becoming a peer. When you hear it from him, you know it’s certified. So, that just meant a lot to me.”
Lillard is set to return to the All-Star Game for the fifth time later this month.
You can read the full post from Haynes at Yahoo Sports.