Portland Trail Blazers guard, Damian Lillard is on top of the basketball world right now.
And it appears that many players, both former and current are taking note.
“He is in a market that is not high like the Lakers and Boston,” Gary Payton tells NBA scribe, Landon Buford.
“I think if he were in that type of market, he would be more recognizable and they don’t respect him. I got that same situation when I was in Seattle about the All-Star games. But now, they are starting to pick him. He is showing what he can do. He is an Oakland guy and is a dude that has a lot of toughness in him and he is showing it. He made first-team last year, second team this year, and he is going to keep doing it. He’s got that swagger and that dog in him, but he is going to keep going at people. So, I don’t think anything is underrated. I think he is in a bad market.”
NBA Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd grew up with Gary Payton.
The ties run deep: Lillard went to the same high school that Jason Kidd went to in the Bay Area.
Follow the Heavy on NBA Facebook page for all the latest stories, rumors and viral content!
Jason Kidd or Damian Lillard?
Recently, Kidd was asked who the King of Oakland is.
His answer? It was gracious!
“It’s a great question, a great debate, but I would vote for Lillard,” said Kidd.
Kidd joins a litany of NBA royalty singing Lillard and the Blazers’ high praises.
Back in March, both Charles Barkley and TNT co-analyst, Kenny Smith both agreed that the Trail Blazers will make their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1992.
“I like Portland in the Finals,” Barkley told me this past spring.
“With [Damian] Lillard and [CJ] McCollum. The addition of Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter. I like them in the West.”
What say you, Kenny?
“Charles, he can say something crazy all of the time,” Kenny Smith told me.
“I don’t normally say it. I’m just saying, not every day in a seven-game series. I’m talking about just three games: shoot six for ten in between to combat guys shooting four for ten from three-point range. They have it, they have it! So to me, that separates them when they’ve been so close every year to get over the hump, that they can get to the Western Conference Finals and they’re a clear and present agent for the Warriors because the Warriors have had trouble with those two guards even in that set. And even, until this year, Oklahoma had trouble with those two guards; until this year.”
“At his position, he is the number one guard in the league right now,” Portland Trail Blazers legend, Bonzi Wells told Landon Buford.
“What I love about Dame, he does so much for the community, he raps, a family guy and loyal to the soil that he grew up in.”
Wells played for Trail Blazers for six seasons, where he averaged 13.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Wells is in awe of Lillard. “He puts the work in on the court and isn’t all about talking with him,” he told Landon Buford.
“He goes out there and performs. That is what I respect about him. With that being said, that puts him above all guards in my opinion. What he did in that First Round [in the NBA Playoffs] against Paul George; who I know is a great defender and Russell Westbrook, who is a competitor; but he was able to put on a show like no other. That put him on the top of my list after that series.”