Guest commentary: Damian Lillard proves he’s a star both on and off the court
During the discussion, Kornheiser said that Lillard isn’t a star in the NBA because of two reasons: First, because he played at Weber State, which is not Duke, Kansas, etc. Second, because Lillard plays in a smaller market (Portland) and that he hasn’t really done anything in the league.
Were Kornheiser’s comments out of line or did he have a legitimate point? I’ll let you be the judge of that, however, I personally believe Lillard is a star for a number of reasons.
First, he became the only player in NBA history to take part in five major All-Star events. Current basketball stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and even Kobe Bryant have not been able to accomplish such a feat. Because some events are only for rookies and sophomore's, these NBA greats have no chance at accomplishing what Lillard has achieved.
Second, Lillard has been given a shoe contract that is currently valued at over $100 million from Adidas. It is one of the biggest shoe contracts since Derrick Rose signed a 13-year deal in 2012, making Lillard one of the highest-earning endorsers in the NBA. While Kornheiser might not think Lillard is a star, Adidas certainly begs to differ as it is betting big on Lillard.
Lastly, does it really matter what school you went to? Last time I checked, the only thing that matters in the sports arena is winning. Are wins doubled based on which school you went to in high school or college? No! Just because Lillard went to Weber State doesn’t diminish any of the many achievements he has accomplished during his short NBA career.
There have been thousands of athletes who have come from lesser known schools or “mid-majors” and have done extraordinary things in professional sports. Utah Jazz fans will always remember two of the most dominating NBA players (John Stockton and Karl Malone) to ever put on a Jazz uniform. Even though Stockton and Malone came from smaller schools in Gonzaga and Louisiana Tech, they didn’t let that stop them from having some of the greatest careers in the NBA.
Other famous professional athletes who have come from “smaller schools” include: Scottie Pippen, Tim Hardaway, Steve Nash, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, Paul Millsap, Steve Smith, Andre Miller, Eric Weddle, Alex Smith, Jamal Anderson, Steve Young, Jimmer Fredette, Danny Ainge, Jim McMahon, Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, etc.
Even after everything that he has accomplished, Lillard’s critics are still out there. While it bothers some, Lillard takes it in stride as it serves even more motivation to outwork and outplay any challenger that comes his way.
Justin Giles holds a bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. He recently completed an internship with the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @Justingiles22 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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