Playin' on Purple: Another Damian Lillard column

Last weekend was an incredible weekend for me and sports. First off, the Ravens (and if I didn’t mention it at least once today, I couldn’t call myself a true fan). I’ve never had a favorite team win a championship, and it feels really good.

Second of all, I went to the Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers game last Friday. Of course I went down to watch Damian Lillard, and of course I was rocking a Lillard No. 0 shirt. I was not the only one to go down; there were a lot of Weber State fans there. My parents bought the family tickets for Christmas. This was the first time I’ve seen Lillard play since last year, when he was sporting the purple-and-white No. 1 jersey. He was a good player back then, but now he is phenomenal.

Lillard just played ball. Several times he drove right through the middle and scored an easy layup, or went through the Jazz defense for a dramatic dunk. He had some good 3-point shots. He was making a lot of passes that turned into assists. He had several dunks. He just played solid basketball. It was phenomenal. It was entertaining basketball.

Every time he did something that was awesome (which happened a lot), I would cheer loudly. There was a group of five or six teenagers sitting right in front of me. Every time I would cheer, the teenagers would turn around and glare at me or stare at me. I just wanted to flex my shoulders and say, “What? Pipe down! I’m supporting Dame!” I didn’t, but I wanted to. Guess that’s how it goes when you are cheering for the opposing team of the home court.

Lillard is said to be the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. I am not surprised at all. Is anybody from WSU surprised at all? Probably not.

I remember just after he got drafted, he was asked in an interview what he was going to do now that he’d made it to professional ball. His answer was that he was going to keep working. He wanted to work for Rookie of the Year and the All-Star games and championships. He wasn’t going to stop setting goals to be better just because his dream of playing in the NBA came true. His work is never done.

He has an incredible work ethic that shows when he plays. One thing I loved was you could tell he knew the game. Sometimes he made these passes that looked like they were to nowhere, and then one of his teammates was there to execute the play. One minute Lillard had the ball, and the next LaMarcus Aldridge was dunking it. He has meshed well with that team and is doing some good things. If you haven’t watched him play on TV yet, you need to. You won’t be disappointed.

I was sad that the Trail Blazers lost the game I watched, but Lillard played great. It was fun to see him play in person again. It’s been a while, and it was refreshing. I’m excited to keep following his career, because it’s going to be one worth watching.