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."

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.

He pays 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.

32 Reasons to love Portland (wesley Lapointe)
32 Reasons to love Portland (wesley Lapointe)