Damian Lillard Talks Return to Oakland
Oakland, Calif. -- It's homecoming time for Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard.
The standout two-time Rookie of the Month returns to Oakland for the first time as a professional as his team takes on the much improved Golden State Warriors.
“It'll be a lot of friends and family, the whole city will be there so it'll be cool to be the next player to play in the NBA from Oakland,” Lillard said. “I'm expecting everybody to be there.”
The city of Oakland has produced some of the great point guards in future Hall-of-Famers Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. Now it's time for Lillard to carry the torch for the city and so far, his 18.0 points a game and 6.5 assist are doing just that.
“I just want to be the best player I can be in this league,” Lillard said. “I want to represent Oakland while I do it and hopefully as I continue to grow in this league, I will become the player that I think I will become.”
During the offseason, no one would have thought a game between the Warriors (22-12) and Trail Blazers (20-15) would be such an intriguing matchup. The Warriors have surprised the league with their start to the year under second-year Head Coach Mark Jackson, an early favorite for Coach of the Year.
The Trail Blazers have won 12 of their last 15 games and nine straight at the Rose Garden. Tonight's game is their second game of a back-to-back having defeated the Miami Heat 92-90 in Portland on national television. Head Coach Terry Stotts is rightfully starting to receive praise for his work, as well.
So, you could say aside from it being Lillard's homecoming, tonight's game is a hot ticket. A ticket many have requested from Lillard as of late in order to get inside Oracle Arena.
“Everybody has asked for a ticket,” Lillard said. “I've had the same number since the eighth grade so everybody has asked for a ticket. But I can't do it. There's nothing I can do about that. I got as many as I can get already.”
When Lillard finally takes that floor tonight, a self-fulfilling prophecy will have been obtained. Each Warriors game he has attended throughout the years, he would always say it would be his last as a fan. That day has come.
“I would always tell my brother when we go to the game, that the next time we come here, I'm going to be playing in here,” Lillard said. “I would say stuff like that all the time and now it's actually happening. I'm excited.”
Tonight's game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet at 7:30 p.m. followed by a brand new edition of “Talkin' Ball.”