Image courtesy: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Damian Lillard’s unwavering loyalty is being considered as both a blessing and a curse. For Blazers supporters, that trait is a blessing — showing commitment to their city in trying to build further success for years to come. As for some, especially those who are considered as neutral fans, it is a curse — as they claim that he won’t be able to bring the basketball’s greatest prize in a small, unattractive place like Portland, upon battling the overwhelming giant market teams of the league. 

But when the superstar saw the moment of glory by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals, a huge realization entered in his mind — winding back on the ultimate goal he implanted on himself since stepping to Rip City as a young standout from Weber State. 

Telling his insights on Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lillard said that he was amazed by the overflowing emotions that Antetokounmpo demonstrated live after giving Milwaukee its first NBA title since 1971.

“But when I watched Giannis, he was really looking around like, ‘Damn, what if I really left Milwaukee? This was worth it.’ So for me, I put myself in his shoes. Sometimes it seems like this is impossible and it’s never going to happen, and I’m sure he was there before, too.”

And then, the five-time All-star said that if ever he finally carried Portland at the top of the basketball summit, he won’t hide his emotions upon the completion of that “lifetime achievement.”

“If I was to get that championship for Portland, I would cry, bruh. Bruh, on the spot. I would really cry, bro.

I want to win a championship here. And because of how strongly I feel about that, I don’t know how rewarding it would feel for me at this point if I won somewhere else. Winning it here would be a lifetime achievement for me.”

Nine full seasons wearing the black and red jersey — full of ups and downs, smiles and pain — it’s like a roller coaster ride experience in viewing the progress of Lillard’s time in Blazers. Whether you get disappointed or happy about the performance of his team, one thing is certain — Lillard has a pure, golden heart with that unbelievable commitment. In this era of the league wherein cagers do turncoats and recruitment to assemble their very own best model, here is Dame — with a flaming desire and sheer competitiveness to win it all one day while not abandoning his roots in facing the towering adversities. Through thick and thin, he is sticking — courageous enough of having faith on the unit he have. 

Whether he wins a title with Rip City or not, he’ll forever be a champion in the eyes of many because of the feisty attitude and uncanny leadership he possesses. A small market hero, he is indeed one for the books and a lasting figure of a goal-oriented individual who aims to carry his city from start to finish with flying colors. 

As Giannis and the Bucks savored a moment together in coronation as the new kings of the NBA last season, how gratifying it would be also if Lillard and the Blazers will have their own in the future.