There’s a quote from a 2017 Sporting News interview with Damian Lillard that’s been getting a lot of attention since his 37-foot series-clinching buzzer-beater against OKC last week.
Although two years later, the quote has given everyone on the internet goosebumps. It has helped drag out the nostalgia of Dame’s now historic shot.
“Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.”
While the quote matches the moment very well, with Dame hitting the decisive highly pressurized shot and all, that’s not the reason it found it’s way out of Twitter’s abyss and back into relevancy.
People aren’t clamoring over his, what now may seem, prophetic passage just because it’s “fitting.” Additionally, people aren’t pure enough for me to believe they were so moved by how in touch with the people Dame is.
What has people so hung up over this quote at this particular moment is the confirmation it gives. It’s the backstory — the prequel, if you will — to the game-winning bucket that broke the internet. Dame really isn’t phased by pressure and that shot proved it.
Damian Lillard just hit one of the coldest shots ever. It isn’t even the 37 feet. Nor even the moment, clinching against a OKC team that he got to silence. It’s the immediate wave goodbye. That look he gives while in the midst of that dogpile. Merciless. pic.twitter.com/WgPfi23QvH
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) April 24, 2019
Sports is sports and, like Dame said, at the end of the day there are real-life problems and issues that exist outside of basketball. However, what if Dame’s approach to the game was applied to our approach to life? What if we saw life’s pressures the way Dame sees the pressure of shooting a near 40-footer with the series on the line?
There’s a key aspect of the quote that seems to have gone viral that people are missing. Also, I think it would help us understand Dame’s approach to pressure a little more.
At first glance, one could interpret that Dame is saying he doesn’t experience pressure like he’s immune or has numbed senses toward hardship and trials. But I don’t think that’s the case.
What Dame’s saying is that he’s seen failure and it no longer haunts him. Which is why he can live a life and play a game where pressure no longer exists.
Damian Lillard is from Oakland, California — one of the most violence-ridden cities in the United States with the ninth-highest murder rate. He’s seen drugs, gangs, and sometimes unbearable living conditions. Just last year his then-20-year-old half brother, Jahrell Lillard, was shot and killed.
So what if he misses a shot?
It doesn’t take a traumatic experience or growing up in hard conditions to be unphased by pressure. Anyone who has failed, in any capacity, can possess these superpowers.
Is the pressure of asking for a raise greater than being underpaid? Is the pressure of not getting the answer you want greater than never finding out? Is the pressure of possibly starting over greater than never getting ahead?
There has to come a time in our lives when we no longer fear the fall. Only then can we take our greatest steps. All it takes is one perspective: Failure may befall you, but it won’t end you.
Despite his team getting swept out the playoffs the last two seasons, losing their star center, Jusuf Nurkić. Additionally, the “star power,” in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, on the other side of the ball, Dame felt no pressure hitting the game-clinching shot from nearly half court.
May we all one day be this unphased by failure that we only see winning.
That series is over. Dame and the Portland Trailblazers have advanced past the Oklahoma City Thunder and are now down a game to the higher-seeded Denver Nuggets.
Denver is the projected favorites; Portland’s back-up center, Enes Kanter, has a dislocated shoulder, and no one thinks Dame has a chance.
Yet, for some reason, I don’t think Dame’s scared at all.