OPINION: Lillard’s loyalty

Bryan Butterfield
Damian Lillard celebrating a winning shot with Weber State teammates. Taken Fall 2011.

Weber State University alumni Damian Lillard scored 71 points against the Houston Rockets on Feb 26. His performance is the highest single-scoring night ever for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Many believe Lillard, a player who hasn’t chased superteam opportunities, is loyal to a fault.

“They better pray I don’t win a ring for the Blazers,” Lillard recently said.

If Lillard does win a ring for the Blazers, it will be one of the most significant accomplishments in the history of the NBA.

Lillard is a former rookie of the year, a seven-time all-star, a six-time all-NBA team member and a member of the NBA’s top 75 greatest of all time list.

It has been a great career for Lillard. The question is, will he ever win a championship, and is his loyalty to Portland dragging him down?

The furthest Lillard has ever been is in the playoffs is the Western Conference Finals in 2019. That year, the Blazers weren’t able to get past the Warriors led by Stephen Curry and star forward Kevin Durant.

His longest-time running mate was guard CJ McCollum, who was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. During Lillard’s tenure, many have blamed the Trail Blazers for not building around him.

Portland hasn’t really been known as a landing spot for superstar talent. Their last teams to make it to the Finals were from the 90s. Although they’ve done well in the past on draft night with picks like Clyde Drexler and Brandon Roy — and more recently with Lillard — they haven’t had as much success with trades.

Superstars around the league would love for Lillard to join them, but he has been adamant that he wants to stay in Portland for his career.

In my opinion, Lillard has been too loyal to Portland. The Trail Blazers have not only failed to bring in talent during his tenure; they’ve never shown they are capable of building around star talent in the first place.

The Los Angeles Lakers are an option, but personally, I would love to see him in New York playing for the Knicks. New York is the Mecca of basketball, and seeing Lillard in a Knicks uniform would be great for the NBA.

As of right now, many view Lillard’s career like Charles Barkley’s — a great player who has never won a ring.

Lillard still has a chance, but either the Trail Blazers or himself have to make a move. He is a great player, but being 32 years old, he does not have much time left to win a ring in his career.