CJ McCollum on Damian Lillard’s game “It’s one of the most beautiful things about sports.”
BEAUTIFUL GAME

CJ McCollum on Damian Lillard’s game “It’s one of the most beautiful things about sports.”

Damian Lillard is one of the most talented basketball players this world has ever seen, and in just eight years in the NBA, he put forward some of the most incredible performances of all time. Lillard doesn’t just catch fire, but he does it in a manner that unleashes his ability to shoot from literally anywhere past half-court; we call this phenomenon “Dame Time.” The most recent occurrence of Dame Time was in Game Five of the 2021 Western Conference Playoffs when Lillard dropped 55 in 2OT to keep the Portland Trail Blazers within striking distance throughout the game. Dame hit some of the most challenging three-pointers in the game’s history, only to have his team fall short in a pivotal fifth game of the series. Portland suffered another premature exit in the playoffs when it was all said and done, and Dame was visibly disappointed. Let’s say the loss was no fault of his, and whoever saw the game knows that Lillard did everything humanly possible to keep his team in the game.

“When Dame gets hot, he belongs to a very small group of players that are able to do that.

Tommy Alter, The Old Man and the Three Podcast.

Tommy Alter is correct, and I would go as far as to say that the only player that can rival what Lillard does during Dame Time is two-time MVP and the best shooter ever to play the game, Wardell Stephen Curry. The only difference between the two is that the Golden State Warriors play a brand of basketball that keeps Curry’s movements relatively unpredictable. On the contrary, for the Portland Trail Blazers, it seems to be just a matter of giving Dame the ball and getting the hell out of the way. Lillard’s backcourt running mate and fellow lethal scorer CJ McCollum confirmed this when he joined JJ Redick and Tommy Alter on their podcast, saying that it is an understanding that he and Dame have that they have learned to play with.

“When I’m cooking, he (Dame) just gets me the ball and let’s me do what I do.”

CJ McCollum, The Old Man and the Three.

It’s easy to look at Lillard’s game and label him a ball hog due to his ball-dominant playstyle, but it’s just part of Portland’s offensive scheme to do that, according to CJ’s statement. Perhaps it’s because Dame catches fire so often that the rest of the team is ready to watch him go once Dame Time happens, knowing that the results from Dame’s efforts are, more often than not, a net positive.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things in sports, watching someone get into a zone. When Dame does it, he pulls up from half-court, and those are effortless shots. I see the work and I’m not surprised that he’s having that success, I’m just surprised by how it happens.”

CJ McCollum, The Old Man and the Three.

Yes, CJ, we feel the same way when Dame Time comes around and can’t help but marvel at what Lillard can do when he hits these streaks. It is good to know that you are just as impressed as us mere basketball mortals. These efforts from Dame are precisely why the basketball world wants to see him compete for a championship because he is that damn good. While we love Lillard’s loyalty, it’s a shame to see talented players have asterisks to their names because they have yet to win a championship; this is especially unfortunate in Dame’s case. Lillard’s hot streaks are almost expected every game, but from here on now, the basketball world hopes that the next time we speak of Dame Time it’s in the NBA finals competing for a championship.