Like much of America I was already asleep by the time Game 5 of the Trail Blazers and Nuggets series started to heat up on Tuesday night and man did we miss one of the greatest playoff performances of all time by Damian Lillard. I'm talking up there with the likes of Klay Thompson in Game 6 against OKC or Jordan dropping 63 against the Celtics in Boston. Dame's stat line looked a little something like this:
12-17 From 3
An absolutely lights out shooting performance. The only thing more impressive than that stat-line is the highlights. Watch for yourself.
Insanity. I've long been a fan of Dame and I don't believe he's ever gotten the credit or recognition he deserves. You can read my thoughts on him here in a blog I wrote earlier this year. The craziest thing about that game last night was the final score. 147-140 Denver in 2OT. What does Dame have to do to get a win? Make every single shot he takes? The only reason Portland forced 2OT is because Dame simply willed it. We may have even had a 3rd OT if CJ doesn't commit a baffling turnover by stepping out of bounds during a crucial possession for the Blazers. Now a lot of credit has to go to Jokic here as he balled out and almost matched Dame's performance, but Dame was still just on another level.
Which brings me to my point. The Trail Blazers are committing theft. The theft of Damian Lillard's career. Since they cross state lines to compete you could even make it into a federal crime. The teams this organization has built around Dame are laughable, yet they are in the playoffs every season and were even on the doorstep of the Finals a few years back. Unfortunately they ran into the dynasty of Golden State in it's prime. Dame is the only reason for this prolonged success. No one can argue that. I understand Dame's whole thing is loyalty and he will most likely never leave Portland, at least voluntarily. I appreciate loyalty from players more than anything, I think sticking around with one franchise your whole career is honorable and adds to your legacy. I have long been critical of players who jump around from team to team when it's most convenient for them *cough* Lebron *cough*, but Dame it's time to get out of town. This front office has shown no ability to build a contender and the organization as a whole seems to be under some sort of curse. Going back years just about all of it's top players had their careers derailed by injury. Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, and Nurkic come to mind from recent decades. Dame needs to get himself to a big market where he will finally get the recognition and the team that he deserves. A team like the Knicks comes to mind as a potential definition. They're a young team that appears to be on the upswing with lots of assets to work with. It's going to be a real tragedy to look back on Dame's career when the dust settles and we see no rings on his hand. He deserves better. He's too good to go out without one. Either the front office in Portland figures it out and quick, or Dame needs to get out of dodge.