Warriors

Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you ask Damian Lillard where he's from the answer comes quick and with a sense of pride. 

"East Oakland," Lillard said with a smile Monday at his Western Conference finals media availability. "Brookfield."

So, it's fitting that in the Warriors' last season in Oracle Arena -- a building Lillard grew up frequenting to watch a much-less exciting Dubs team -- the two-time defending champions will have to go through the Oakland native and the Portland Trail Blazers to make their fifth straight NBA Finals. 

Lillard and the Blazers punched their ticket to the franchise's first conference finals since 2000 on Sunday, when they outlasted the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their second-round NBA playoff series, 100-96. 

The four-time NBA All-Star is appreciative that he gets the opportunity to say goodbye to Oracle Arena on such a big stage. 

"I think it's a storybook moment," Lillard said. "For this being the last year playing in Oakland, me growing up here -- I had season tickets to watch the Warriors play. You know, it's a special ending. Hopefully, it will end the right way for us."

Lillard was aware of Oakland's rich basketball history growing up, and he's proud to be a part of that now.

"Growing up in Oakland, you know the history of Oakland because everybody is so proud," Lillard said, "Bill Russell, Gary Payton, Brian Shaw, Hook Mitchell, Jason Kidd, you just -- Antonio Davis -- you know everybody that comes from your area, across every sport. Ricky Henderson, Darrien Gordon, you know because Oakland is so proud. Like, 'That's my cousin on my mama's side,' you know? Like everybody is claiming them because they just so proud. You definitely aware of it, and I think now to be a part of that history is pretty cool."

 

Kidd has said if he were to pick a point guard from Oakland, he would pick Lillard over himself and Payton, so Lillard has undoubtedly carved out his own place in Oakland basketball lore.

[RELATED: Dame denies saying Warriors 'due,' but confident in Blazers]

Lillard will have 15 of his closest family and friends in attendance for Game 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena.

"I mean, I never looked this far ahead," Lillard said. "I think in my career -- seven years -- that I've accomplished so much. The goal was to just make it to the NBA. I never said I want to be Rookie of the Year or an All-Star. I never looked that far into it.

"But I do remember going to a high school playoff game that was at Oracle. I was with my brother and my dad and we was walking out the arena and I told them the next time I'm going to be in this arena I'll be in the NBA. I said that to them."

Lillard's words proved prophetic and now he gets a chance to craft a perfect goodbye to a place that is a monument to Oakland basketball.