Blazers

Ranking Damian Lillard’s 5 Greatest Moments as a Blazer

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An iconic 11-year run in Portland has finally come to an end. The clock struck midnight on “Dame Time,” and it comes in stunning fashion.

On Wednesday afternoon, nearly three months after requesting a move out of Portland, Blazers superstar Damian Lillard landed with the Milwaukee Bucks following a blockbuster three-team trade. (Writer’s note: us Miami Heat fans are in complete shambles). 

Current ramifications and reactions aside — this obviously concludes Lillard’s memorable run with the Blazers for good.

His numbers tell the majority of the story. Drafted sixth overall in 2012, Lillard played his way into 75th Anniversary Team status after coming into the league from Weber State. Lillard’s statistical production matches only LeBron James, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Luka Doncic. His seven total All-NBA nods compares identically with the likes of Patrick Ewing, Tracy McGrady, James Harden and company. It’s an impressive resume, capped off by Portland’s most successful stretch since the days of Rasheed Wallace in the early-2000s.

Of course, the ending to Lillard’s tenure grew slightly worse by the end. The Blazers fell back down to Earth after reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2019 — the franchise’s first since 2000 — never getting closer than fringe first-round-exit status. Back-to-back missed postseasons and roster stagnation ultimately paved the way for a memorable era to come to its close.

But, not without tallying up the following numbers:

  • Career Stats (769 games): 25.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game
  • Playoff Career Stats (61 games): 25.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game
  • 7x All-Star
  • x7 All-NBA (first team in 2018)
  • x1 Top-Five MVP Voting (2018)
  • x4 Top-10 MVP Voting (2016, 2019-2021)
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team selection

Lillard etched his face alongside Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton as a few of Portland’s Mount Rushmore of “Greatest Players in Franchise History.” In honor of that, here are Lillard’s five best moments with the Blazers:

5. “Bubble Lillard”

Coming off that Conference Finals nod in 2019, Lillard reminded the NBA world how hot he could get on the court. Look no further than his 61-point, eight-assist game in the NBA Bubble versus Dallas.

Breaking the 60-point marker included this unthinkable shot:

Seriously! How is that allowed to go in?!? Lillard came through right as it seemed as Portland’s playoff dreams would be crushed right in front of them.

And, somehow, that wasn’t Lillard’s best single-game performance…

4. Houston, we have a problem

And no, this isn’t Lillard’s playoff game-winner versus the Rockets in 2014.

This past season, on the tail end of his time in Portland, Lillard finished with 71 points against Houston in a 131-114 game. The efficiency was even more impressive: 22/38 from the field (58%), a perfect 14/14 from the foul line and 13/22 (59%) from three, his most threes in a game ever.

Lillard tied for the most points in a single game this regular season alongside Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell. Lillard also broke his own personal best of 61 points, which he did twice (2020 versus Dallas and Golden State).

Historically, the performance places Lillard in elite company. He became just the eighth player in league history to score at least 70 points; his 71-point game versus Houston means Lillard is the only player above age 30 to reach at least 70 points, per ESPN.

Lillard’s 71-point game is also tied for the eighth-most points a single game all-time with Mitchell, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor.

3. Praying for a miss

If an NBA player forces another NBA player to pray for a miss, that might tell how great the former truly is. Look no further than a sneakily-underrated first round matchup between Portland and Denver in 2021.

Statistically, Lillard averaged above 30 points and 10 assists per game in the 4-2 series defeat. For context, he joined Russell Westbrook, Allen Iverson and Doncic as the only four players to average at least 30 points and 10 assists per game in a first round series.

Lillard topped 55 points in the double-overtime loss in Game 5 to Denver, cementing this incredible clip into the greatest of the NBA’s “wait, did that just happen?” moments ever:

For context, Lillard averaged 34.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game on 66.0% true shooting. Since 1973, only three players suited up for at least 50 playoff games and average at least 25 points and six assists per game. LeBron James and Steph Curry are the first two. Lillard is the third.

2. Houston, here we go again

Apologies to Rockets nation for the double mention. Yet, it’s kinda difficult to leave this unthinkable, series-deciding shot in 2014.

After missing the playoffs in his rookie year, the Blazers made it back in 2014 and would continue to do so for the rest of the decade. With LaMarcus Aldridge soon out the door, Lillard almost got the keys to the team moving forward.

This shot might as well have.

1. Wait, there’s two?

Hitting a game-winner to end a playoff series is one thing. Doing it a second time is almost impossible. Well, except for Lillard.

Five years after his three versus Houston, Lillard went another level versus Oklahoma City in 2019 against the likes of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Famously outplaying Westbrook, Lillard cemented himself easily as the second-best point guard behind Curry and miles ahead of the rest of the field.

The commentator’s words still ring years later.

“Lillard… long-range three… AND IT’S GOOD!”

Dame Time in Portland is gone, but it won’t forgotten.

Damian Lillard Next Stop Bobblehead!

Damian Lillard bobblehead

Destination: Deer District. No need to check your watch, Milwaukee. You already know it’s Dame Time. Celebrate your team’s newest superstar with this Damian Lillard Milwaukee Bucks Next Stop Bobblehead.

About Dominic Chiappone

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