OAKLAND – The latest shot heard ‘round the world occurred Tuesday night in Portland, Ore., on national TV, before the disbelieving eyes of NBA stars accustomed to buzzer-beating heroics.
Oakland’s own Damian Lillard, however, shot his way through any pretense of aloofness. HIs game-winning, series-clinching 37-foot jumper over Oklahoma City defensive ace Paul George was an act of such hubris that it sent dozens of players around the NBA running to their phones to praise the way the Trail Blazers star punctuated his 50-point performance.
Draymond Green, basketball aficionado that he is, was among them, tweeting out a three-word message – “Damn Dame! Wow!” – late Tuesday night.
“Yeah, that was crazy,” Green said Wednesday after Warriors shootaround ahead of Game 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“That whole series he played was pretty amazing,” he added. “Dame has been a great player in this league, a guy who I’ve been respecting. But I gained a lot more respect after just the entire series he put together with the back-and-forth between him and Russ (Westbrook) and the way he kept his poise and just continued to lead the team. That was amazing.”
Lillard and Westbrook are bitter rivals, with the Thunder guard doing most of the stoking. They are a study in contrasts, Westbrook the brash trash-talker always running hot while Lillard’s style is understated, rich with swagger dipped in ice.
Green and Lillard are friendly rivals, partly because both entered the league to the shrugs and yawns of skeptics.
“Obviously, he can score the ball with the best of them,” Green said. “But Dame has a chip on his shoulder and has since the day he walked into this league. Just the way he’s grinding, he plays like a guy from Oakland, with a chip on his shoulder. A guy who has been doubted forever. And that showed up in a major way in that series.”
Among the other high-profile athletes to comment on social media were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jamal Crawford, Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Love, Trae Young, Allen Iverson, Candace Parker and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Draymond also responded to George’s postgame statement that Lillard took a “bad shot.”
“There are still bad shots, even if they go in,” Green said. “But I don’t know if you could really say that then, if they’re getting 50. I don’t know if you get 50 if any shot is a bad shot, because heat checks and everything are allowed at that point if you get 50. Incredible performance.”