Everyone who covers the NBA knows that Portland Trail Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard is one of the best basketball players in the world. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, one of the most prominent NBA pundits, is well aware of the remarkable things Lillard can do on the basketball court.
However, Smith recently swallowed his pride on an episode of “First Take” and delivered a passionate apology to Lillard.
Damian Lillard is once again putting up monster numbers
The Blazers are in fifth place in the rugged Western Conference standings despite C.J. McCollum being out with a left foot injury. Damian Lillard’s backcourt mate has only played in 13 games this season.
With McCollum out, Lillard has put the Blazers on his back. He’s averaging 29.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 44.7% from the field, 38.2% from beyond the arc, and 93.4% from the free-throw line.
Lillard, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving are universally recognized as the top three point guards in the NBA. Since Curry and Irving have won championships and play in big market cities, they receive a lot more press than Lillard, which is unfair since the Blazers star is a unique talent.
After Damian Lillard recently hit a game-winner over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, Stephen A. Smith decided enough was enough. The veteran pundit dedicated a whole segment on “First Take” to Lillard and used his platform to apologize to the five-time All-Star.
Stephen A. Smith issues a massive apology to Damian Lillard
Stephen A. Smith said he’s sorry for overlooking Damian Lillard’s exceptional performances this season. The ESPN personality took the blame for the national media not giving Lillard his props since he doesn’t talk about the former Rookie of the Year enough.
“This brother is just on another level,” Smith said about Lillard. “And on behalf of all the great NBA reporters, all the great aficionados, all the great analysts, on behalf of everyone, I will put myself at the top of the list. I apologize. It’s my fault. Because this brother, Damian Lillard, has been ignored for far too long. He is the real deal and does it time and time and time again, and we don’t talk about him enough. He’s on that damn MVP list. He’s on that MVP list right now, and I will not make that mistake again. I apologize. I apologize. It’s my fault.”
Since entering the NBA in 2012, Lillard has hit several game-winning shots in the regular season. However, the two biggest shots of his career took place in the playoffs, where legends are made.
In the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Lillard hit a series-clinching 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 to send the Blazers to the second round. Dame Dolla topped himself during the 2019 playoffs when he scored 50 points in Game 5 of the first round versus the Oklahoma City Thunder and sank a 36-footer over Paul George at the buzzer to give the Blazers the series win.
He hasn’t played in the NBA Finals yet, but Damian Lillard deserves more respect from the basketball media. Moving forward, Stephen A. Smith will make it a point to show the Oakland native the respect he deserves on ESPN.
How far will the Blazers go this season?
The Blazers are 16-10 on the season. Damian Lillard and Co. would face Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2021 playoffs if the postseason started today.
For the Blazers to go on a deep playoff run, the team needs C.J. McCollum back in the lineup. Portland isn’t going to win a championship with the current roster it has, but with Lillard leading the way, the Blazers can make some noise in the postseason.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.