Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard has been featured in the latest ESPN Cover Story.
“As Real As It Gets” by ESPN’s Marc Spears helps NBA fans get an in-depth on Lillard as an NBA star, but also let’s fans get a peek into Lillard’s current home life, how he operates, and how he grew up.
Lillard discussed in the feature story that being a Portland Trail Blazer has meant that he can be “the best version” of himself.
Making it back to the conference finals is a long shot, and a championship might be little more than a pipe dream for this season. But don't expect Lillard to shrink from it, or to look for the door.
"They allow me to be like the best version of myself as a player," he says of the Blazers. "They support me in the stuff that I do off the court. So why am I looking for a different situation?" Lillard is already second on Portland's career scoring list, behind only Clyde Drexler. If he stays healthy, he will move into the top five in franchise games played. Drexler and Bill Walton are considered the greatest Blazers of all time, in large part because they led Portland to the NBA Finals. Lillard is in their company. He could retire from basketball today and warrant having his "0" jersey hang in the rafters at Moda Center. But there is work left to do, right where he is.
For years, Lillard has said he has daydreamed about a parade down Broadway Street.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is also featured in the in-depth article. Coach Stotts spits the truth: Just because Lillard doesn’t join “Super Teams” doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to hoist up the Larry O'Brien Trophy someday.
Lillard just wants to do that in Rip City.
More from “As Real As It Gets” --
And while Lillard is committed to the Blazers, head coach Terry Stotts says that hasn’t made him complacent in his desire to win a championship:
"Don't underestimate how badly he wants to win a championship," Blazers coach Terry Stotts says. "He doesn't change teams to supposedly do that. He thinks we can do it in Portland."
Lillard and Damian Jr. have settled in West Linn, an affluent neighborhood in Portland these days. They roller-skate and rent out nearby movie theaters for family and friends. Lillard distributes sneakers to the needy and has established a RESPECT Program aimed at helping area high school kids graduate. He sees home here, even as he's still rooted to Brookfield. You can hear it when he talks about Damian Jr. "My son is from West Linn," he says. "His pride is going to be in his name and what he represents. So he's going to have that type of pride in that way."
Trail Blazers fans appreciate how much Lillard has invested in the Blazers and the Portland community. And it’s obvious to see Lillard appreciates the community here and is proud to say his son is from West Linn, OR.
It's hard to believe now that it was just last year that LeBron James was reportedly recruiting Lillard to join him on a Super Team.
And now Lillard will square off against LeBron and Co. Friday night at 7:30pm on NBCSNW.