Every player has a story of the night they had their "Welcome to the NBA" moment.
Not only does every player have one, but more and more of these stories are starting to share a common thread - Damian Lillard.
In early September, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard D'Angelo Russell shared a story of how Lillard welcomed him to the league.
"Man, I love telling this story. I'm not gonna lie." Russell smiled, laughed, and proceeded to tell a story of a trip to Portland his rookie season on The Old Man and the Three podcast.
"We were in Portland, we're playing Dame... the start of the game I'm guarding him. They're like, 'you're gonna guard Dame, accept the challenge.' I'm like, 'cool, let's do it." Said Russell. "So we're out there and I'm just, like, in awe. This is Damian Lillard. Wow. I'm still in awe through maybe the whole first quarter. I'm in awe. This dude pulls up, deep ball, three. Comedown, foul on me, and one. Look up, deep ball, three. Another one. Another one."
Russell isn't alone.
A nine-hour drive down Interstate-5 sits the Sacramento Kings and star point guard De'Aaron Fox.
Like Russell, Fox was welcomed to the league by Portland's superstar.
Fox was a guest on The Old Man and the Three podcast with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter, where he was asked if he had a welcome to the NBA moment. Without hesitation, the Kings point guard recounted a game against the Blazers his rookie season.
Back on February 9, 2018, Lillard and the Blazers visited the Kings.
A rookie Fox was tasked with guarding Lillard. I didn't go so well for the rook.
"So, my rookie year Dame...even to this day Dame is the hardest player I have to guard. He gave us 50 in three quarters," said Fox.
"He was doing it to everybody. I was guarding him... George Hill. Garrett Temple. We were throwing everything at him. He's coming of the pick, we're blitzing him. Man, he made the game look so easy. You see what he's doing right now. He's pulling up from halfcourt... I'm like, 'Yo. There's nothing I can do. I don't know what you want me to do to stop this man.' That was for sure my welcome to the NBA moment." - De'Aaron Fox on Damian Lillard.
Fox is not alone. He's not the first or the last player to be welcomed to the league by Lillard.
Like host and fellow NBA player JJ Reddick said on the podcast:
"Dame's been giving a lot of players welcome to the NBA moments."
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].