Damian Lillard has always been an underdog. Coming into the league, he was knocked for having played at Weber St. and not a big name program. He’s been called out for believing in his squad, even when the odds were stacked against it. Even this past week, Skip Bayless decided to throw shots at Portland’s leading man.
The Trailblazer’s response was quick and ruthless.
However it didn’t stop there. Lillard decided to show the world what Dame Time was about. His target: the Dallas Mavericks. His mission: to prove the doubters wrong.
Lillard did so masterfully, not only notching his second straight 50-point game, but also dropping 61 points on the Mavs. The game itself was an absolute shootout, ending in a 134-130 win for Portland. And Lillard was the maestro behind the maelstrom, scoring more than 45 percent of his team’s points.
Damian Lillard has always been an underdog. But maybe it’s time to pay him his due. After all, he’s one of the league’s clutchest shooters. He’s shot the fourth-most clutch shots this season, according to Inpredictable, and made nearly 54 percent of them. The same site has him shooting 44 percent on potential buzzer beaters.
To put that into perspective, Trae Young — who currently leads the league in clutch shots with 154 — shoots 46 percent on clutch shots and 38 percent on potential buzzer beaters.
If numbers aren’t your thing, just take a look at Lillard’s career highlights. The man sonned Paul George last year in the Western Conference Semifinals. A long-distance buzzer-beater in George’s face sent Oklahoma City packing. It also created one of the most career-defining playoff moments I have ever seen. The magnitude of the moment was met with apathy from Lillard.
What impresses me most about Lillard isn’t his highlight reel, but his attitude. He plays with a fury that comes from a lifetime of being underestimated. And it shows. Whether it’s pulling up from three in someone’s face or barrelling to the basket, Lillard’s intensity defines him as a player. You can hate him all you want, but he’s going to use that energy to win.
Every time he hits the court, his goal is to prove everyone who’s ever doubted him wrong.
Damian Lillard has always been an underdog. But he shouldn’t be.
BANNER: James Schumacher//Flickr