The great Kobe Bryant was in awe of Damian Lillard and his talent. “Dame Time” impressed “Mamba” for the first time in his rookie season.
The 6-time All-Star of the Portland Trail Blazers, has always been underrated across the league till the last couple of years. He singlehandedly won them many games, averaging 30 points per game in 2019-20 and 28.8 PPG in 2020-21 season.
Lillard not only claimed the NBA Rookie of the Year Award that season but is among very few unanimous winners. He also joined Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson as the only rookies in NBA history to score in excess of 1,500 points and 500 assists for a season.
Dame was among the 10 NBA players who scored above 1500 points that season while averaging 19 points, 6.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He won the rookie of the year award over Anthony Davis.
Although he got all those All-star appearances, he never got any significant game time in most of those games.
“Damian Lillard is not afraid of anything, he has the whole package”: Kobe Bryant
He started averaging over 20 points per game the following year, got his first All-Star appearance alongside Bryant, both teamed up to play for the Western Conference. Lillard was upset over not getting game time, to which Bryant said “You’re right where you’re supposed to be with everyone here. You’re an All-Star. Just keep working, young fella,”.
He started averaging over 25 points since his fourth season and still missed 2 All-Star selections.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 11, 2013
Kobe called Portland ‘special’ and complimented Damian Lillard and CJ Mccollum
In his final season in the NBA and his last and 40th and final game in Portland, after getting a standing ovation from the crowd and thanking them, Kobe was found praising Lillard again, “They have so much talent, so much potential,” Bryant complimented Lillard and McCollum. “They’re both extremely hard working and very curious about the game.”
NBA might or might not have appreciated Damian Lillard as one of the League’s best Point Guard of the past decade, but Kobe did, he saw his “Mamba mentality” in Lillard and always spoke highly of him and so has Lillard.
Although Dame is a man of few words he has payed his homage to the Mamba since his passing in various interviews, his personal merchandise and his rap music.
Now that Dame Dolla has got a new coach Chauncey Billups let’s see how this upcoming season goes for him and the Blazers who solely depend upon Lillard and his buzzer beaters.