Damian Lillard knows a thing or two about stepping into the ring.
The Portland Trail Blazers guard takes his talents to the boxing gym each offseason to sharpen his skills such as hand-eye coordination and mental conditioning which translate to the hardwood.
He knows NBA players can really throw a punch, too. That’s why Lillard was in front of his screen watching former NBA veteran Nate Robinson as he faced off against YouTube star Jake Paul in a light heavyweight match.
By now you know that the former three-time NBA Dunk Contest champion was knocked out cold by Paul at the 1:25 mark of the second round. The Internet wasn't too kind to Robinson following the knockout blow, but if you ask Damian Lillard, it’s just part of the sport.
“I think what he did was bold,” Lillard said. “He got in the ring and a lot of people don’t got the nuts to do that, so respect to him for doing it...
Lillard went on to defend the 5-foot-9-guard turned-boxer who was "fighting for my brothers in the NBA,” as he tweeted before the match.
“Everybody’s making a big thing about it because it was Nate Robinson, but people get knocked out in the gym every day or in the boxing gym every day because it’s part of that sport,” Lillard said. “He chose to participate in that sport and he just came up on the wrong end of it. And I watch boxing so much, that I don’t view it the same way everybody else does because I know that’s a part of the fight game.”
Hey, at least Nate the Great made it to the second round.
It's worth noting that taking on Paul was a tall task from the get-go, considering the YouTube star's length advantage, roughly three years of boxing experience, and two fights vs. other YouTubers.
Maybe it wasn’t Robinson's finest moment, but just making the effort is something Lillard and the rest of us can commend him for.
Robinson is still a legend, on the hardwood that is.