Sekou Smith Explains Damian Lillard’s Loyalty To Portland

As NBA analyst Sekou Smith explains, Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are a perfect marriage – for many reasons

The DA Show
August 14, 2020 - 10:25 am
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Damian Lillard has been pretty outspoken about his love of Portland and his desire to remain a Trail Blazer. He even signed a four-year contract with the franchise last summer, very much putting his money where his mouth was.

Why is it so important for Lillard to stay in Portland, especially when stars often chase the bright lights of bigger markets?

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he’s playing in a league where, [with] any roster, you can look at the number of McDonald’s All-Americans – guys who have been basically anointed since they were in middle school to be where they are, to be in the league, to be All-Stars, to be superstars,” NBA.com senior writer and NBA TV analyst Sekou Smith said on The DA Show. “And here’s a guy who took the back-door route. He wasn’t everybody’s All-American coming out of high school in Oakland. He goes to Weber State and turns himself into a star in college. He gets drafted, and a lot of people are still doubting him whether or not he should be drafted as high as he was, and then he does what he does in Portland.”

Lillard, the sixth overall pick in 2012, won Rookie of the Year. He is a five-time All-Star, was first-team All-NBA in 2018, and was second-team All-NBA in 2016 and 2019. He is, without question, one of the best players in the game.

“That city, that fan base, embraces him and makes him their own,” Smith said. “Every step of his journey has been about paying that back. That’s why you see Dame Lillard represent Portland, the Trail Blazers franchise, and that fan base in the way he does. He wants to win and do it his way in that city. I think he should be applauded for having that attitude in an era when guys don’t blink about packing up and going somewhere else and chasing championships.”

Lillard has played like a man possessed in Orlando. He’s averaged 37.6 points and 9.6 assists in the bubble and scored 40+ points four times. He’s also had two games of 50+ points and scored 61 in a 134-131 win over Dallas on Tuesday.

“He was playing like a maniac to get his team into this position,” Smith said. “When he first starting talking about why the Blazers wanted to be in Orlando in the bubble, he said it was all-or-nothing. They got an opportunity against Memphis in this play-in scenario to do exactly what he was talking about.”