Guest commentary: Damian Lillard proves he’s a star on and off the court (part II)
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.
These comments were nothing new to the All-Star point guard as he has battled and silenced critics throughout his entire basketball career. Almost every scout and coach overlooked him during his high school career — except for one. Randy Rahe, head coach of the Weber State Wildcats, saw something in Lillard that warranted him a scholarship. Little did anyone know at that time Lillard would go on to become a household name in the NBA.
In an interview with SLAM, Lillard talked about his rise from being overlooked in high school all the way to becoming a starting point guard in the NBA.
“I had been overlooked in high school and I got overlooked even in college at Weber State. My main thing was to outwork everybody because I knew that that would be my way to get people’s attention by constantly getting better and putting that work in. Not only that, just being a high character person on and off the court. I think I gained a lot of fans because of who I was off the court. People respected me as a person before they did as an athlete.”
So how did Lillard respond to the comments made by Kornheiser? Instead of stooping down to that level, Lillard took the high road when he tweeted out:
I don't care what Tony Kornheiser thinks of me but whatever I do or do not become, will not be because I went to weber state. #RespectIt— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) May 5, 2014
Lillard has always been composed, confident and mature beyond his years. Most of it is in part to being molded by his coaches, teammates and family. With so many great point guards (Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Brian Shaw) coming out of Oakland, California, Lillard plans to carry the tradition and live up to the high expectations that he not only has for himself, but for the entire city of Oakland.
A true star off the court
While Lillard has won numerous awards on the basketball court, it’s his awards off the court that makes him the great person that he is. Last March, Lillard earned the NBA’s Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community, ongoing advocacy and charitable work. Lillard became only the fourth rookie to receive the award.
“It’s an honor to receive this award and I hope that it will bring even more attention to the Respect campaign,” Lillard said. “I’ve seen too many of the negative effects that bullying has on people, especially kids. Now that I’ve learned how many people look up to us as NBA players, I want to make the most of it by getting behind positive initiatives like anti-bullying.”
Most people don’t realize that Lillard was also an active global ambassador for the Special Olympics last year, participating in events all across the country. In fact, Lillard helped coach the Special Olympics Unified Sports Game during the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, Texas. On top of all that, Lillard also supports the Boys & Girls Clubs as well as the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
So what hasn’t he done? Not only does he break basketball records, but he is a true role model for children throughout the world as an active member of the community.
If Lillard isn’t a star both on and off the court, then I don’t know who is.
Justin Giles holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Justin recently completed an internship with the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @Justingiles22 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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