Here is a corny but necessary tradition: the annual valentine to Damian Lillard.
In 2015, I wrote: "There are times when I look at Damian Lillard and see nothing else in Portland worth liking." In 2018, k.d. lang wrote: "Damian's commitment to Portland and his love for Portland is so infectious and beautiful." In 2019, me again: "The best athletes in the world don't talk about friendship. They don't pull their teammates aside during a close game to say they love them. But Lillard does." Related: 37 Reasons to Love the Blazers Right Now.
Give it a rest, right? Maybe take a breather from hagiography for a year.
But then, this January, the guy goes supernova, averaging 41 points a game for more than two weeks, carrying a depleted and ill-conceived roster to improbable victories out of some hard-wired sense of honor.
tribute to Kobe Bryant by obliterating the Lakers in a game any other player would have conceded. When referees rob him of another win, he unleashes a tirade that has the whole country up past midnight on Twitter, waiting to see what he'll say.
The man has more levels than Big Pink.
This month, coach Terry Stotts said, "Don't ask me about Dame. I'm all out of superlatives. Don't ask me to explain it. Don't ask me what I think. Write what you want."
OK, coach, here goes: He's the best player this city has ever seen.
Blazers fans enjoy dwelling in regret. A blown 16-point lead, a No. 1 draft pick misspent, a broken bone that derailed a promising career. It's all very sad.
But right now, three nights a week in the Rose Quarter, there's a player performing at a level unmatched in franchise history.
This was not inevitable. We did not have to pick him, and he did not have to pick us. And it will not last forever.
Savor this. We're watching Damian Lillard, the best Portland Trail Blazer of all time.
Related: Damian Lillard Just Scored a Career-High 61 Points, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Record. 1. Because we're creating new neighborhoods… 2. Because we made voting even easier… 3. Because a doomed building is now a temporary work of art… 4. Because we're still No. 1 in semi-factual superlatives… 5. Because you can finally get a beer for less than $10 at Moda Center… 6. Because our news anchors don't take crap from internet trolls… 7. Because University of Portland continues to turn out some of the best women's soccer players in the world… 8. Because we are the champions of cyclocross… 9. … and roller derby… 10. … and air guitar… 11. Because we're turning wastewater into beer… 12. … and beer into exercise… 13. Because a local punk legend is holding a permanent rummage sale in the basement of a record shop… 14. Because we let you stop and smell the weed… 15. Because we're a world hub for slap-tagging… 16. Because even Texans are impressed by our barbecue… 17. … and you can get almost any style of pizza here… 18. … and also, we've perfected the soy curl… 19. Because we're dedicated to keeping our strippers healthy and limber… 20. Because our gynecologists are building a better speculum… 21. Because our airport keeps getting more awesome… 22. …and so does Movie Madness… 23. Because we're making Halloweens more inclusive… 24. Because the city's most daring developer is growing strawberry fields in the sky… 25. Because we're bringing the pay phone back, minus the "pay" part… 26. Because you can turn on the TV and see your neighbor compete in an eating contest against a bear… 27. Because hardcore foosball players finally have a home… 28. Because we're home to the largest astrology school in the United States… 29. Because this is the best place in the country to be a witch… 30. Because we believe no kitty should be left behind… 31. Because the barred owls are taking over… 32. Because the best Trail Blazer in history is playing in front of us…