On Thursday, as the ongoing national protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other black people entered their second week, a famous face stood out in the crowd in Portland: basketball superstar Damian Lillard.
The Trail Blazers point guard, dressed in a Malcolm X shirt, locked arms with other demonstrators as they marched across the Morrison Bridge, chanting "Black Lives Matter" and reciting Floyd's name.
On Instagram Live the following day, Lillard reflected on the experience.
"The moment we're in as black people, all the protests across the country—it's us connecting with the icons of black history," he said. "We're basically participating in something they started."
Lillard said the crowd stopped on the bridge at one point, and he thought about Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and how the resistance they faced while marching was even greater than what protesters across the country are currently confronting.
It left him with "deeper respect for the leaders of the past who lost their lives fighting for everybody else" and made him realize that the enormity of the moment isn't something you can grasp just by posting on social media.
"Once you feel it and you feel the tension and the purpose and the passion of the people who are really out there out in front, the faces of these protests and these movements," Lillard said, "you automatically get invested in it and it makes you feel like you're not doing enough."
"I went to the one from revolution hall to Waterfront," Simons tweeted, "and it was powerful."
The Blazers are set to travel to Orlando, Fla., in July to vie for a playoff spot in the restarted NBA season. But Lillard insists he's not done protesting.
"I'll definitely go back and do it again," he said.