“The last romantic of the modern era is gone!” Damian Lillard (33‧187cm) was one of the last romantic stars in the NBA. Compared to stars like LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant, who bounced from team to team to win championships, 바카라사이트 Lillard was a one-club man, playing quietly for his debut team, the Portland Trailblazers.
For a team that was unusually unlucky in the draft, he was still a force to be reckoned with. Portland fans, who had just lost their star, Brandon Roy (39‧198cm), who retired early due to injury, were especially fond of Lillard. Lillard also showed his love for the team by saying, “If I can’t win a championship in Portland, I’m willing to give it up. They don’t call it the heart of Portland for nothing.
Lillard isn’t the only franchise star, though he’s less so than he used to be. The Golden State Warriors‘ Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are the franchise trio of the league. But in their case, they’ve built a dynasty beyond winning Finals titles, which makes it even stranger for them to leave their teams. It’s in their interest to stay with their current team, whether it’s for practicality or honor.
Players who don’t fall into that category don’t hesitate to abandon their one-club mentality and bounce from team to team in search of better conditions or championships. Lillard, at least until recently, was not one of them and was dubbed a “modern-day romantic” by fans. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Because even Lillard has flown the nest to another team with the sole purpose of winning.
After the end of last season, Lillard strongly demanded a trade to another team. He was desperate to add a championship to his career, which is one of the reasons why his team, Portland, was so reluctant to add to their roster. He realized that his chances of winning a championship were slim if he stayed put, so he spoke up.
Portland didn’t want to trade star Lillard. However, Lillard was so adamant that they had to give in. The problem was that they didn’t have a free agent to match. Lillard wanted a team that was strong enough to contend for a championship and where he could go and play.
One of the best fits was last season’s Finals runner-up Miami Heat, so he pushed for a move there. However, Portland didn’t have an easy time matching up with Miami. While the Heat were eager to welcome Lillard, they didn’t want to lose too much power in the process.
A war of attrition ensued, and eventually the Lillard trade was finalized in a three-way deal involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Lillard went to defending champion Milwaukee, while Portland received Jerry Holloway, DeAndre Meyton, Tumani Kamara, a 2019 first-round pick, and two pick-swap rights. Phoenix filled their needs with Jusuf Nurkic, Grace Allen, Nasir Little, and Keyon Johnson. All three teams reportedly got what they wanted.
Miami wasn’t the first choice, but Lillard got what he wanted. On paper, Milwaukee is stronger than Jimmy Butler’s Miami. They have the “Greek Freak” Yannis Adetokunbo (29‧211cm), who along with Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets are the No. 1 and No. 2 active players.
Coupled with the likes of Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, Lillard’s arrival is expected to have a major impact on the league. Portland is planning to build a team for the future by collecting prospects centered on super rookie Scooter Henderson (19‧188cm), who was selected with the third pick in this draft.
The trade puts pressure on Lillard to add a championship to his resume. The romanticized image of Lillard was erased as he broke his promise to finish his career in Portland. Reggie Miller, John Stockton, and others played their entire careers with the same team and etched their names into NBA history in a different way, even if they didn’t win a championship.
Lillard seemed to follow in their footsteps, but ultimately gave up on himself. It would be great if he could add a championship like LeBron and Durant, but if he ends up in the same awkward position as Harden and Westbrook, it will be a big disappointment. It’s also likely that their personal careers will lag behind their contemporaries in terms of awards, and their ratings will plummet after they retire. That’s why Lillard’s decision to abandon romance in favor of practicality is so interesting.