The Portland Trailblazers have won one NBA Championship since entering the league as a franchise in 1970. Following the 1977 title, the Blazers have had a tough go of things and been one of the unluckiest franchises in the league. They passed up players in the 1984 NBA Draft such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, instead opting for Sam Bowie. In the 2007 NBA Draft, they selected Greg Oden with the first overall pick and passed on league’s current best player behind Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James in OKC Thunder Kevin Durant. The team’s franchise player from the 2006 NBA Draft, Brandon Roy, was a budding superstar but chronic knee issues forced him to retire. If some breaks had gone their way, they would have multiple championship balls in their trophy case. With an unlucky history, the current Portland squad is in good hands. The sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Damian Lillard, has turned into a superstar already in this league and has teamed up with LaMarcus Aldridge to form a dynamic duo. With the 24-year-old Lillard entering his third NBA season, the tides have turned for the Blazers as they seem to be on the lucky side for a change.
Like most of the great players, Lillard has overcome a lot to reach the status of elite. He was only recruited by one Division I school out of high school in Oakland, California. Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, was that school and Lillard played with a chip on his shoulders. The six-foot-three point guard dominated for Weber State, winning Freshman of the Year honours and Player of the Year honours twice. He was a prolific scorer and showcased his excellent athleticism which led to the Blazers picking Lillard in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Lillard started off his career with a bang, picking up Co-MVP honors of the NBA Summer League and dropping 23 points and 11 assists in his regular-season debut. Portland didn’t make the playoffs during Lillard’s first season but he won Rookie of the Year honours and the expectations were raised. This past season, Lillard made his first All-Star Game appearance and the Blazers claimed the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Lillard once again stepped up big in the clutch, winning the series on a three-pointer at the buzzer to drop the Houston Rockets. The Blazers went on to lose to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in round two, but the future is set. They missed out on Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant but the Blazers stock is going up with the help of Lillard. Chris M.