Damian Lillard is impressing even longtime basketball viewers with his recent string of performances for the Portland Trail Blazers. He responded to criticism for missing two free throws against the Clippers by scoring 51, 61 and 42 points to put the Blazers in position for the Play-In Game and playoffs. While Lillard is known for high-scoring outbursts, former Weber State teammate Scott Bamforth told Scott Cacciola of The New York Times that Lillard has “found another level”:
They still keep in touch via text message, Bamforth said, and get together for the occasional off-season workout. But while little about Lillard surprises him anymore — Bamforth knew his former teammate was bound for big things — Bamforth has detected a subtle change in Lillard’s demeanor in recent weeks.
“You can see there’s a difference in him where he truly knows and believes he’s the best player on the court every time he plays,” Bamforth said. “There’s just no doubt in his mind. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the court with LeBron James, or if he’s on the court with James Harden — anyone. And I feel like everyone else knows it, too.”
Bamforth also explained how he helped add a move to Lillard’s arsenal a couple of summers ago:
Bamforth recalled how they were working out a couple of summers ago when Lillard pulled him aside. He had noticed Bamforth’s footwork coming off a screen — Bamforth had dribbled to his right before elevating for a jump shot — and wanted to know everything about how he had done it in microscopic detail.
“He was like, ‘If I can get that pull-up going to my right, it’s over,’” Bamforth recalled him saying. “And I kind of thought I had already learned that move from him. Like, ‘What are you even talking about? You’re Dame Lillard!’ But if he sees something that he can improve, he’s going to ask — and he’ll ask anyone.”
You can read more from Cacciola’s story here.
H/T to commenter conspirator5 for pointing out this story!