ESPN analyst and human malfunctioning car horn Stephen A. Smith has a message for Damian Lillard: Get out of Portland, now.
On today's edition of First Take, the daily sports debate show he co-hosts, Smith devoted two minutes to screaming into a camera about how the recent NBA All-Star returns—in which Lillard finished with less fan votes than struggling Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball—confirm that the Blazers point guard must demand a trade to a bigger market. "IT'S OFFICIAL, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN," Smith yelled while aggressively performing the Dame Time wrist-slap, "HE'LL NEVER RECEIVE THE APPLAUSE AND ALCOLADES [sic] HE SO RICHLY DESERVES AS LONG AS HE'S IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST IN A CITY OTHER THAN SEATTLE!"
Somewhat proving their point, Smith responded not long after that. (He didn't write in all-caps, but you should still read it that way in your head.)
Lillard himself has not yet responded, though he did recently discuss his frustrations with not making the All-Star team the past two seasons, telling ESPN, "it feels like I always got to be the fall guy." (He's made the team twice, in 2014 and 2015, though the second time was as a replacement for the injured Blake Griffin.) He also specifically addressed Lonzo Ball—who's going to be fine, everyone, just fine!—finishing ahead of him, and acknowledged the role market size, along with the attention paid to certain members of his family by certain four-letter cable networks, played into that result.
"He plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most, if not the most, storied franchises in that big of a market," Lillard said. "So, so many people are going to support him throughout that, and also with his dad and all the attention that's been surrounding him since college."
It should be noted that Lillard has not yet officially received his yearly snub—the All-Star reserves, which are decided by coaches, won't be announced until next week, and analysts place his chances at fair-to-middling.
For his part, Lillard has repeatedly said he'd rather lose in Portland than win a title somewhere else. In that same ESPN interview, he doubled-down on those sentiments, declaring his intentions to be remembered as "the best Trail Blazer ever."
So take that, Stephen A. No one who says something like that would ever walk away from the team.