The Portland Trail Blazers season ended on a sour note when they were finished off in a four-game sweep to the Golden State Warriors on April 24th. That didn’t keep the team and superstar Damian Lillard from doing something wonderful, showcasing great character in a time most would be upset with the result of the season.
Lillard convinced the entire team to donate their playoff bonuses, around $16,000 a player which equals out to over $223,864, to the Blazer staff members. The money is being given out to the team trainers, therapist, and equipment managers, coming to around two-dozen employees who will split the bonuses amongst themselves.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) May 6, 2017
This gesture comes as little surprise as just last week Lillard was named the 2016-2017 Magic Johnson Award winner, an accolade given by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. This award is given to the player who combines on-court superlatives along with the ability to cooperate with the media and the public in an excellent manner. Lillard has also become the only player to be a finalist three-straight years for the award, just another example of the class and caring nature that he possesses. The only other Blazer to win the award is Brandon Roy who took home the hardware in the 2008-2009 season.
— ChicagoSports (@ChicagoSports) May 2, 2017
When asked about his approachable manner in the locker room Lillard summed it up rather simply. The following is from CSN Northwest:
“It’s my opportunity to share what is going on, or what I think about something,’’ Lillard said. “That way, I can limit people having to assume things, or make things up. I can explain myself, or share my thoughts. It’s my opportunity to take the stage, so to speak, to say my part.’’
With NBA players viewing the media as the enemy in present day, some with reason and some not, Lillard showcases professionalism that seems to pave the path for his teammates. Hopefully it can spread throughout the league.