Dame Time 2.0 for Lillard at the Moda Center
Beloved former Trail Blazer Damian Lillard returns to Moda Center Wednesday for the first time in 10 months, this time as a Buck.
Why it matters: Seeing Lillard leave the Trail Blazers after 11 years of service was bad enough. Seeing him come back with a winning team might break some Blazers fans' hearts.
State of play: Lillard joined the Milwaukee Bucks in October.
- Since going there he has played 42 games and averaged 25.3 points a game.
- The Blazers are second from last in the Western Conference, with 14 wins and 33 losses. It's been a bad season so far.
- Placed second in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks (32 wins, 15 losses) fired their coach Adrian Griffin last week in his first season.
New coach Doc Rivers said Saturday why he jumped at the chance to coach the Bucks: "Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Dame. Really, that's the answer."
- The Blazers front office is calling it the biggest game of the year and on Sunday released some more seats in the nosebleeds starting at $64.
- Veteran Portland sportswriter Kerry Eggers told Axios, "It's going to be an event, a happening. Dame will be celebrated, and he will handle the night with aplomb and dignity."
Portlanders have happy memories of Lillard. On Feb. 26, 2023, he scored 71 points against the Houston Rockets at Moda Center.
- Dame tapping his imaginary watch for Dame Time (late winning shots) was a recurring high point in the last decade, as on this legendary night against the Rockets on May 3, 2014.
He clocked his first buzzer-beater for the Bucks two weeks ago, against the Sacramento Kings.
Between the lines: In Portland, Dame had a life outside of basketball.
- He did millionaire stuff, like boating on the Willamette River near his mansion, and partly owning a Toyota dealership.
- But he also worked through his foundation to benefit local youth and participated in a Black Lives Matter march.
- Fans connected with him through his Instagram and his music, as Dame D.O.L.L.A.
- His September 2023 album "Don D.O.L.L.A." came out just before his trade to the Bucks heated up and his marriage to his college sweetheart collapsed.
What they're saying: "Dame is a West Coast legend, you're gonna get a big reception for Dame being back," fan Sam Spurling told Axios at the Independent Sports Bar and Grill on SW Broadway.
- He said nobody holds Lillard's decision to leave against him: "Everyone in this city has a ton of love for Dame, everyone's rooting for his success. I guarantee you."
- "It wasn't like he was just here for the money. This is home."
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