Damian Lillard is no stranger to competition. He’s used to stepping up to the best, which means he’s used to having the best clap right back.
Case and point: Tuesday night.
Lillard faced off against the league’s most dominant floor general this season in Russell Westbrook and put together a solid line of 22 points, eight assists and three rebounds. The Portland Trail Blazers walked away with a 126-121 win, but it was Brodie who scored a career-high 58 points to go along with his nine dimes and three boards.
After the game, Lillard was asked about getting respect around the league “going up against these big point guards like that.”
“I mean, I’m a big point guard.”
Damian Lillard let me know he’s a big point guard in this league and that his peers Westbrook, Curry, Thomas, Paul, and etc know it too. pic.twitter.com/FbKITrrf8p
— Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter) March 8, 2017
Lillard continued, and he didn’t mince words:
“It don’t matter to me, but I think people know what it is. We all play against each other. … When I play against Russell Westbrook, when I play against Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, and all the other type guys; Isaiah Thomas, you know whoever — Chris Paul. When we play each other, I respect them because I know what they bring to the table. And you know, I know they big dogs and they know I’m a big dog too. That’s the respect that I care about.”
Lillard added to his comments that he doesn’t care what the media or anyone else off the court thinks about his status among the league’s best point guards. But for fun, let’s take a look at how Portland’s face of the franchise has fared against the very names he listed.
Dame vs. CP3
Dame vs. Russ
Dame vs. Uncle Drew
Dame vs. IT2
Dame vs. The Babyface Assassin
Advantage: Babyface Assassin
None of this is to say that Lillard hasn’t performed against his proclaimed “big dog” competition. None of it is to say that he needs to step up his game, either.
After all, each player gives his franchise something different, and when it comes down to it, Lillard might be the most valuable of all in that sense.
What it does show, though, is that Lillard is in the same class as the rest of the league’s elites. He knows it, his fans know it and his competition knows it.
Now we just need All-Star voters to know it.
*All statistics and images are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and are current following games on Tuesday, March 7.