There has never been a doubt that Damian Lillard has been Portland Trail Blazers leader for a while now. The 6x All-Star is giving his all to be available and to keep faint championship aspirations alive in Portland. A player of his greatness deserves to end his career with at least one championship to his name.
But for Lillard, it’s not just about winning a championship — it’s about winning it in Portland. While he has always stayed committed and kept his end of the bargain, there have been questions whether the franchise is failing to reciprocate that same level of commitment.
The 30-year-old has battled a left ankle injury, tender ribs, an abdomen strain and knee soreness from continual screen clashes. The bumps and bruises have never stopped him from stepping on to the court. But it has affected his game. In the last 11 games, he has averaged just 21.4 points per game and shooting 33.3 percent from three-point range. The struggles have taken him out of the MVP conversation as Portland have dropped 10 of 15 games and dropped to the No. 7 seed.
While Lillard did show up on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, it came on a day when Yahoo’s Chris Haynes wrote a piece that urged the Trail Blazers to find a better supporting cast alongside Lillard.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) May 1, 2021
When asked about his reaction to Haynes’ story, he said, “I took it for what it was. That’s his thoughts. I was not irritated by him because he is a writer. That’s what he does. But I know because of our relationship, people would assume that I was tied to the story. That bothered me a lot”
Should Damian Lillard leave the Portland Trail Blazers to win a championship?
Neil Olshey, the president of basketball operations, drafted Lillard and CJ McCollum. Those are two career-defining picks that earned him prestige in league circles, but building out the roster has been a mixed bag.
Lillard is the greatest player in Blazers history and is uniquely the most low-maintenance superstar in the league. He has never issued an ultimatum to management, an approach most superstars venture down when they feel the roster hasn’t been up to par for years.
But this Portland roster is no where close to a championship team. With the Lakers, Clippers, Utah and the Suns all in the West, it is hard to believe that Portland can beat them in a best-of-7 series.
While it would be the best decision to leave if Lillard is looking for a championship, he has always spoken about his commitment and loyalty to the club. After all, it is his dream to bring the championship to the city of Portland.
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