Damian Lillard has blazed his own path to superstardom.
He was barely recruited by high-major programs after fighting his way up the prep point guard pecking order in Oakland. He played four years at tiny Weber State University in northern Utah. And now that he’s at the top of his game, the Portland Trail Blazers’ franchise player wants to bring his team with him – despite the inevitable challenges associated with building a contender in the pacific northwest.
After Kobe Bryant set the basketball world on fire with 60 points in his final game, Lillard posted a photo on Facebook of his reaction to hearing the news. Pretty awesome, right? Even Bryant’s NBA luminaries were left in awe by his performance.
But definitely more awesome is Lillard’s response to a fan who subsequently asked him to “come to the Lakers.”
What Lillard, who signed a five-year extension with the Blazers last summer, has done in Portland already is quite impressive. Few expected him to become a player of this caliber, and fewer still expected him to lead his young team to a playoff berth following the offseason departures of veteran stalwarts LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez.
But Lillard did it all anyway. Will he manage the incredible success in Portland that Bryant did in Los Angeles? Doubtful. By now, though, Lillard has shown the NBA how foolish it is to doubt him.