Google “Damian Lillard chip on shoulder," and you’ll be instantly inundated with pages upon pages of articles, interviews and other ephemera detailing the fiery Portland Trail Blazers point guard’s years-long quest to drown out the doubters and halt the haters.
You’d think the history would’ve been rewritten by now. Even if it has, Lillard hasn’t read it. His is a holy grudge, forged in fury for the long haul.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Lillard will become the first player to participate in all five of the All-Star Weekend’s showcase events:
Lillard will become the first player in NBA history to take part in five events during the All-Star festivities that run from Feb. 14-16: the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Friday night, then the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, the Sprite Slam Dunk contest on what's deemed State Farm Saturday night, and the All-Star game Sunday.
As has always been the for the little-known prospect out of Weber State who has done such big things since making that strong first impression in Chicago, he said he's simply taking advantage of the opportunities that come his way.
That’s exciting news for Lillard, and bad news for pretty much everyone else.
You can bet that Lillard is the early favorite to take home the hardware for the Rising Stars Challenge, which he won last year. Ditto the Skills Competition, where his peerless combination of speed, quickness and shooting should bode well for a deep run.
The three-point contest will be a bit trickier, as you can bet Stephen Curry will be out for merciless revenge following last year's somewhat disappointing showing.
At the same time, if Lillard wants to save his gas for the dunks—which, let's be honest, is the night's main event—bowing out of the earlier contests might end up working to his advantage.
If you're newly minted commissioner Adam Silver, this has to feel like a pretty nice public-relations coup for what promises to be one of the most impossible follow-up acts in the history of sports. Not a bad icing to have on your first All-Star Weekend cake.
As for Lillard himself, it’ll be interesting to see whether basketball burnout becomes a factor throughout the weekend.
Wait, did I just doubt Damian Lillard? Oops. Please don't dunk on my head, Damian.