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Lillard On Loop: Damian Lillard, the Embodiment of Confidence

May 2, 2014; Portland, OR, USA;Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) congratulates Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) after making a last second shot in the second half in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

May 2, 2014; Portland, OR, USA;Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) congratulates Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) after making a last second shot in the second half in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center.
Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

We have thirty minutes to write about Damian Lillard, and I’m sitting here listening to Future and staring at a blank screen. And now five minutes have passed and I’m down to twenty-five minutes and the previous sentence is all I have written.

It seems like it should be easier to write about Damian Lillard. He’s a young point guard on his way—if he isn’t already there—to becoming a star, and he just hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three pointer to send Portland to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in forever. (I’m on a deadline. No time to look up exact dates.)

It’s not like I haven’t watched Lillard play. Because of the whole West Coast time difference thing I don’t watch him as much as I’d like, but I see him enough. Plus I just watched him play seven playoff games in the last two weeks.

Okay, I’m down to thirteen minutes and have essentially written nothing.

And now there’s just ten minutes left and I spent the last few minutes re-watching Lillard’s shot from the other night. I don’t know, hoping it would give me inspiration or something. 

What has stuck with me since the shot (is it going to become so legendary that it just becomes referred to as The Shot in Portland?) was not the actual making of the basket—which, of course was incredible. He had to catch, pivot, and release all in just zero point nine seconds. A lot of people couldn’t even get a shot off in that amount time, let alone sink it. No, what stuck with me was the way he came whipping around that screen, clapping and demanding the ball. And then after it went in, the stone cold mean mug he gave everyone like that was just another shot he knew he could make.

Two minutes now. Getting close.

Lillard’s confidence shone through both before and after The Shot, and now that I’ve thought about it for a few minutes, that’s always what’s shone through with Lillard. He knows he’s capable of making big time shots, and he’s proven it time and again. In just two years in the league, he’s hit at least four game-winners that I can think of off the top of my head. His confidence is more important than any of the numerous skills he has, because without that steadfast belief in himself, everything else is irrelevant. Damian Lillard is the embodiment of confidence, and that’s going to lead to a lot more moments like The Shot.

Time’s up… Swish. (I hope.)

Jack Maloney