Throughout his time in the league, Lillard has become the definition of a clutch player who can make wild plays and dismantle a team’s defense.
He has also become the definition of loyal.
Some feel he is actually loyal to a fault.
"I'm naturally a loyal person, but I do have a level of loyalty to the [Blazers] organization… I feel like we'll have a chance to win, I feel like that moment is going to come."@Dame_Lillard on whether he'll remain in Portland for the rest of his career
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 15, 2022
The Blazers have continued to struggle as Lillard has soared and this has led some to call on him to leave.
Lillard would have a better chance of securing his first championship ring if he played for, say, the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, or even the New York Knicks.
But Lillard has stayed put.
When recently asked if he still imagines spending his whole career in Rose City, Lillard was direct: “I do.”
He went on to say, “I’m naturally a loyal person, but I do have a level of loyalty to the [Blazers] organization. I feel like we’ll have a chance to win, I feel like that moment is going to come.”
That’s an optimistic view from Lillard – is it also a realistic one?
Although there are multiple talented players with the Trail Blazers, the simple truth is that the team’s potential rests on Lillard’s shoulders.
He is the centerpiece of the team, the lynchpin that holds it all together.
The team lives or dies because of him.
And Lillard needs more to get the team to the Finals, or even deep into the playoffs.
He has a few good players by his side but the team is short a strong All-Star or two.
If the Blazers wish to climb out of the bottom of the Western Conference, they will need Lillard in the lead with a stronger team around him.