Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard has had a historic season in his 11th NBA campaign.
After becoming the franchise all-time leading scorer last month, he has garnered national attention from New York Times columnist Kurt Streeter, who highlighted Lillard’s loyalty in his recent article.
Streeter talks about what makes Lillard special in this age of the NBA, his connection to the city of Portland, and the Trail Blazers organization. He showed just how much Lillard means to the team with quotes from head coach Chauncey Billups where he talked about the motivations for the team.
“He’s one of a kind,” said Chauncey Billups, who spent nearly two decades playing in the N.B.A. and is now the Blazers’ second-year head coach.
Billups wasn’t merely speaking about talent. Lillard is the rare basketball star who prizes loyalty to his city and team above all — even if that means waiting and waiting, and waiting some more, for his team to become a championship contender.
“We understand how lucky we are to have him,” Billups said. “Everyone in this city, and on this team, wants to win for Dame.”
Streeter also talks about his own attitudes about Lillard in the past and how those have began to shift recently.
Winning is important, no doubt. But isn’t there more to sports than victory?
More than any other N.B.A. star of his caliber, Lillard embodies the notion that the journey — the often painful path toward getting better — is the thing. It takes guts and patience and the ability to go against the grain. He has that. It also takes a certain kind of awareness that shows itself with deft passes and clutch shots and even in how players handle life off the court. Indeed, he seems to have that, too.
Lillard has been having one of the best years of his career in Portland averaging 7.3 assists and a career high 30.1 points.
He has become synonymous with Portland basketball during his tenure, and according to Streeter, that is one of the best qualities to hope for in the modern NBA.