Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard vs. Kobe Bryant. 

Lillard Time vs. the Mamba Mentality.

The Letter O vs. the Black Mamba. 

While each are very different, and to this point, their accomplishments and accolades remain very different, the two draw a handful of paralells. 

Though, looking at the core of both players. the two share one trait, specifically, and Lillard has been displaying it to the world since the NBA restart.

Raja Bell, who played in the NBA from 1999-2013 and squared off against Kobe Bryant countless times, spoke about the Lillard-Bryant comparison on the latest episode of ‘The Ringer NBA Show’

They both have that ‘killer’ mentality.“I feel like Dame is the closest thing to Kobe that there is in the game. I don’t mean that from the standpoint of the way they look doing it, I'm talking about mentality, where it is always in assassin mode type of thing with them. Their always kind of creating a chip. There is just always something to prove and you feel that when you watch them play, there is the respect that they feel like they have earned and they are not given and the greats have to do that, right? That's what keeps you on point and keeps you questing for the next thing. He is, for me, a problem. If I had to guard him, I don’t even know really where I would start. The range is what it is and he is shifty and he is sneaky athletic.

 

What Bell is saying makes a lot of sense.

In the Lakers first game after the death of Kobe Bryant in January, it was Damian Lillard who channeled the Mamba Mentality and dropped 48 points in the Blazers 127-119 win.

Now, looking back at Portland's last-second loss to the Clippers last Saturday where Lillard missed two crucial free throws that would have put the Blazers up with 18.6 seconds left in the game, others may have crumbled under that pressue.

Not Lillard.

The next game against the 76ers, he dropped 51 points and added with 7 assists in a crucial win for the Blazers.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Lillard made up for the Blazers loss and the taunting from Patrick Beverley and Paul George that came after it. It only fueled him. It was basically like throwing gas on an already blazing inferno.

Lillard's focus, his determination is reminsicent of Bryant’s #MambaMentality focus. Lillard isn't in this to make friends. He wants to dominate any and everyone on the court and come up big when the team needs you the most.

Bell spoke about how “undervalued” Lillard is, too.

“I do think he is undervalued,” Bell said. “His skill set, with the right complementary pieces, is one that thing could win championships. Portland has a decent team, they got a nice little squad, I just don’t know if he has the right complementary pieces around him yet.”

The Blazers, at the moment, are 4-2 this the restart and are 1/2 a game behind the 8th seed, with Lillard averaging 29.3 ppg per ESPN.com to help keep the Blazers alive in this playoff race.

Although Lillard may not have the decorated career that of the late Kobe Bryant, Lillard has been proving to the league that he deserves to be in the same conversation as some of the best players currently in this league.

Also, let's not forget when Bryant saw what Lillard when back in his rookie year in 2013.

The one thing you can say about Lillard and how he relates to Byrant with his mentality going into every single game:

Win.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]