Through nine seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard has become the poster child for NBA team loyalty.
The superstar point guard has emphasized his commitment to the franchise time and time again. But, no matter how clear he makes his stance, there will always be fans and media members urging him to make the jump to a large market team.
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith gave the most recent example of this push to get Lillard out of Portland. The outspoken Knicks fan made his case for the PG to join a larger market New York team on Tuesday afternoon — siting a chance to improve his personal brand.
“Dame needs to be in a big market … like my Knicks?”
— @stephenasmith 👀 pic.twitter.com/YrsU55rx0t
— ESPN (@espn) March 4, 2021
In response to Smith and any other analyst who interjects their opinion, Lillard had a strong message.
“I think, for every person that says you know I want to see him on the big stage, and I want to see him go to a bigger market and all these things, of course those things have pros, but nobody ever wants to think about the cons,” Lillard said, via NBC Sports. “If you take that step and it’s not what it seems to be, and it doesn’t work out, or an injury happens, and you haven’t established as much of a rapport with that team, and they chose one guy over the next guy and now you’re traded to a third team, things can fall apart. That may never happen, but it’s just a lot of things you can’t control. You got to consider both sides. But for me, it would have to come down to my team saying look, we’re going in a different direction, and we don’t want to hold you hostage, basically, and what route do you want to go.”
Lillard is clearly happy where he is — but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied with all he’s accomplished just yet. The former No. 6 overall pick is on a mission to bring the Trail Blazers their first title since 1977, and second all time.
With nine Portland seasons under his belt, the six-time All Star feels he’s given the organization too much to turn back now.
“I think anytime in your life when you become so invested in something, whether that’s a person or a company or anything, you care a lot because of the time that you put into it, and how much it’s been on your heart and on your mind and part of your stress and all these things,” Lillard said. “For me, it just means a lot to be considered amongst the best players to play in this organization because there’s been so many great players here, and to win a championship because we’ve only won one and it’s been so long, that would just be the best ending for me.
“Just to be able to bring that back to this city because of how much I know it means to them, and how passionate they are about basketball and our team. If we can just get it done and bring that feeling back from ’77 one time during my career, that would be everything to me.”
At 30 years old, Lillard is at the top of his game. Through the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season, the long-time Blazer is averaging 29.8 points and 8.0 assists per game. Behind his stellar play, Portland currently sits at No. 5 in the NBA West with a 21-14 overall record.
The post Damian Lillard Has Strong Message For ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith appeared first on The Spun.
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