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Monday, April 20, 2015

Damian Lillard: Others before Self

How long does it take to become an overnight national sensation?
About 0.9 seconds, if your name is Damian Lillard. However, before that shot, the Portland Trail Blazers, now two-time All-Star, Point Guard made an impact on the NBA in his first year. His first summer league game he scored 25 points (all in the second half) and I knew he would be a special player. He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month of his rookie year, making him the obvious choice for Rookie of the Year. He is just the fourth unanimous selection in NBA history for the ROY award. However, playing in the Northwest part of America, Lillard still couldn’t get any real national attention. Following a 13-game losing streak to end his rookie campaign, Lillard started his second season with his eyes on the prize.

“I don’t want to be called Rookie of the Year. That was last year. I’m going for All-Star, MVP, NBA Champion,” Lillard said.

He did become an All-Star, and the Blazers took another step towards a championship. The team won their first playoff series in 14 years on one of the rarest shots in NBA history: a walk-off, series-winning three-pointer to beat the Houston Rockets. 

Those 0.9 seconds exploded Lillard from a Northwest star to a national icon. He was featured in several commercials before his “shot heard round the world,” but he has more pull and publicity now. He also started a Friday tradition for himself and his fans. #4BarFriday
Lillard is the guy who thinks he can rap, but actually can. He thought of the idea when Instagram started allowing users to post videos.

“I noticed you could put 15 second videos on Instagram, and I realized that’s just enough time for four bars,” he said.

Lillard shares his 4BarFriday’s every week and is able to connect with fans. He’s even got SportsCenter guys trying to take part

However, to me, all of that pales in comparison to who Lillard is as a person. If you don’t know he wears the Letter O, not the #0. The 3rd year guard wears the letter O for three reasons. He grew up in Oakland, played in Ogden at Weber State University, and now plays in Oregon with the Blazers. As a player, Lillard is a star still finding his brightest shine. He loves where he’s come from in Oakland and Ogden, and where he is in Oregon. Lillard’s care for the city of Portland and the fans in it show that he just wants to perform and be the guy in Rip City for years to come. Lillard also volunteers his time to visit kids in the hospital, a trade that seems to be getting overdone by athletes, but Lillard always enjoys his time in the Portland hospitals. He's also an advocate and ambassador for the Special Olympics. The story is from Lillard attending the ESPY's last year. Lillard was going to walk the red carpet with one of the Special Olympics athletes. A Twitter Troll tweeted, that could take awhile, that guy looks easily distracted. Lillard snapped back with a "watch your mouth" reply. Lillard is a genuine guy and cares about the people around him.

To wrap up, Lillard is a one of a kind athlete in today’s professional game. Athletes are consumed with themselves, their money and their own progression. Lillard looks out for his teammates, his fans and the city of Portland. Lillard is always out in the community, putting in more time than most expect out of athletes. Lillard has the heart and determination to become a superstar in the NBA and in Portland. It took 0.9 seconds to get Damian into the limelight, but it's going to take a lot more than that to get him out.


  1. I really enjoyed that you didn't focus purely on statistics, and instead took the time to make it more personable. The introduction to the athlete as a person was really well done, and held the interest of those of us who don't necessarily follow sports or the NBA

  2. I appreciated the factual background information you provided at the start of the presentation to set the stage. I did not know that he wore a letter as a number so that was a fun fact. Most athletes end up ruining their image on social media but he has obviously used it to his advantage. One of those rare athletes that is more than an athlete.

  3. Very interesting story! I'm not a big basketball fan but I thought this was a very cool story! Way to not just talk statistics but what makes the person and what he does off the court.

  4. Definitely a different type of player. He is one of a few players who markets themselves very well. I was surprised you did not use his video of him rapping on a New Orleans radio station. His #4BarFriday got one of his Instagram followers a job. He is up for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award. Interesting topic.

  5. I really enjoyed your presentation. As someone who isn't a basketball fan, it was nice to learn about Lillard as a person and not just hear about what he does on the court.

  6. I think you did a good job of remaining objective during your presentation and not just yammering on and on from a fan's perspective about why he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but also allowing your passion and excitement about the topic shine through. Well done.

  7. You did a great job explaining him as a person and letting us see his personality. I loved the part about his rapping career, and also how you explaining the thing about why he wears a O. I think that you showed passion for the topic and I enjoyed watching your presentation!

  8. Hey, Matthew! I think you did a great job with your presentation. You had really good videos to support post. I like the topic you chose and it's definitely something to think about. Also, like that you decided to cover something on the Portland Trailblazers, it's nice to steer away from the typical Hawks/Sonics/Soundsers stories we usually revert back to as West-siders. Great job, it definitely held my attention - and I'm not even that big of a basketball person!

  9. I really liked your presentation on Lillard. I didn't know you were from Portland which explains your love for the Trailblazers. I loved how you talked about Lillard from a basketball and life perspective. I did not know the reasoning for his number until I saw your presentation, it was a cool fact that not a lot of people are familiar with. I loved that you showed passion for your topic, which makes it a overall great presentation, good job!

  10. Damien Lillard is a rising superstar with a good chance of heading to the Hall of Fame one day. I liked your energy and passion for Lillard. Your presentation was good and showing that 3-pointer buzzer beater was a must, and I appreciate you playing that. Also, it was nice that you talked about his rap music that he posts on social media. Not a lot of people knew that, and I thought it was a cool idea to bring up. Good job!

  11. Knowing how big of a Trailblazer fan you are it's not hard to see why you did your presentation on this, and it translated well to the presentation and the blog post. You backed it up with more than just a bias opinion on the player which is nice to see and hear.

  12. As I mentioned on another presentation, I'm not too knowledgeable about NBA. However, I enjoy hearing what players my peers are fans of and why. I like learning about the human elements athletes display - in this case, Damien Lillard's community service and rapping career. They make athletes more than just entertainers.

  13. Hello Matthew,

    Your presentation and blog are terrific. Your knowledge of the player was quite evident, topped only for your enthusiasm for your topic.
    You've elicited some good comments. Well done.