Damian Lillard just does things differently.
The five-time NBA All-Star smashed 61 points through the hoop to lift the Portland Trail Blazers in a critical win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Lillard scored a late three to tie his career-high points scored, and rolled to his third 60-plus point game of the season. He is one of two players to do so in league history, taking a spot next to Wilt Chamberlain.
Only two NBA players have ever scored 60 points three times in one season:
➖ Damian Lillard
➖ Wilt Chamberlain pic.twitter.com/5hAEHYkjre
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 12, 2020
Recently, Lillard has caught buzz regarding his interactions with the media and fellow players.
After missing two free throws in the last 18 seconds on Saturday, Lillard was mocked by opposing LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverly. He imitated Lillard’s trademark Dame Time celebration by pointing to his wrist and waving goodbye to the Blazers.
During the post-game presser, Lillard savagely reminded the press of the punishment he had dealt the Clippers in the past.
“Asking me about Patrick Beverley, who I sent him home before at the end of a game. Paul George is a guy sent home by me last year in the playoffs, so they know. The reason they reacting like that is because of what they expecting from me, which is a sign of respect, and it just shows what I have done at a high clip more times than not. I am not offended by it.”
Social media banter predictably ensued between the three players, with emojis and one-offs traded across Instagram.
Lillard was also asked about his missed opportunity during the same presser.
“I don’t see myself as a mental midget or somebody that is going to hold on to it,” Lillard said. “I am a shooter.”
damian lillard going into all-caps FUCK YOU mode for today’s game was the least surprising thing of all lol he stays ready to yank someone’s spine out
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) August 10, 2020
Lillard held himself accountable for the loss but refused to let it hold him down. His comments, as well as his off-court interactions with players, have shown the honest, outspoken, and loyal leader that he is.
Recently, Lillard has also developed beef with infamously outspoken sports columnist Skip Bayless.
The Skip and Shannon: Undisputed star has been known to criticize LeBron James over various topics during his career. Lillard recently admitted over Twitter that he has confronted Bayless regarding the hate.
Ask him what he said when I asked him “ and why you always hatin on Bron ?” https://t.co/0FFrB7CRSV
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) August 10, 2020
This reveal came around the same time that Bayless ripped Lillard’s viability following a 51-point performance. The Blazers guard defended himself.
Lillard’s response might be viewed as petty by some, but it was simply self-defense against a critic’s opinion. After all, he does have the goods to back it up.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) August 7, 2020
With an easygoing demeanor, Lillard was prepared to speak and settle things with Bayless. He held his position and stated his feelings directly to the talk show host.
“When he called me, I was just like ‘Bruh I don’t know you like that, you don’t owe me no explanation, and I don’t owe you. Stop speaking on me incorrect.'”
Top players, including the late legend Kobe Bryant, have noticed and appreciated Lillard’s top game and outspoken sense of passion.
Lillard was rated only a two-star prospect by Rivals coming out of high school. After helping lead his Oakland Oakers high school team to a 23-9 record his senior year, he accepted a scholarship to Weber State University.
As a freshman, Lillard was named the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 11.5 points per game. In his sophomore year, he improved his average to 19.9 points per game and led the Wildcats to the conference championship. He was named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.
(2011) Damian Lillard at Weber State! pic.twitter.com/c7sXrXPM70
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) October 25, 2017
After taking a medical redshirt the following year, he averaged 24.5 points per game his junior year and won his second Big Sky Player of the Year award. He forewent his senior season to enter the 2012 NBA Draft and picked up sixth overall by Portland.
Lillard’s rookie year was a boom. He was one of 10 NBA players to score 1,500 points and finished fifth in the league in 3-pointers made. After starting all 82 games and averaging 19.0 points per game, Lillard won the Rookie of the Year Award, becoming the fourth person in history to do so unanimously.
Over the next seven seasons, Lillard would garner five All-Star selections, an All-NBA First Team selection in 2018, and would lead his team to Western Conference Finals in 2019.
It takes a village!
My new video for #HomeTeam is out now. Celebrating family, friends, loyalty and what we can build when we stick together.
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 17, 2020
Lillard’s success has come in the form of team wins, awards, and a distinct off-court approach. It is rare to come across a player who is so honest to himself and his teammates. Lillard will say and do things as they are, without worrying about repercussions.
The Oakland-native has the opportunity to take the Blazers deep into the playoffs this strange season. We cannot wait to see Lillard take fire these next few weeks.