On Wednesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers will be faced with a daunting task: extending their overachieving season by defeating the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.
Absolutely nothing short of a miraculous performance will save, and extend the Blazers’ season. And, yet the Blazers’ leader is highly capable of delivering such a performance.
Damian Lillard is the kind of conductor who can orchestrate the most harmonious melodies, which leaves the audience in tears of joy as they watch beautiful basketball.
Remember the Warriors’ first game following the All-Star Break? It was in Portland, Oregon when Damian Lillard dropped dimes (sorry couldn’t help it!) all over Chef Curry and company.
Lillard, the undersized point guard, finished with a career-high 51-points to go along with seven assists, six steals, and zero turnovers to lead his Blazers to a dominant, statement-making blowout win of the defending champions Warriors.
Portland won 137-105.
So, yeah Golden State took the regular season series 3-1. And, yes they are most likely to win the 2016 NBA Playoffs series 4-1. But, could Stephen Curry have done what Damian Lillard pulled of? Nah. How about Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden or Carmelo Anthony? Nope.
The only player who could – and probably – would of done something as special as what Dame did, is LeBron James.
Let’s recap what happened to the Blazers about a year ago in free agency. LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the San Antonio Spurs. Wesley Matthews left for the Dallas Mavericks. Nicolas Batum signed with the Charlotte Hornets. Robin Lopez signed with the New York Knicks.
Those are three starters, and their sixth man. Basically four of their top five players left, and yet Dame, and head coach Terry Stotts, have this team in the second round of the playoffs.
When Mason Plumlee is arguably the best free agent you signed after watching the exodus, you have to wonder what the front office was doing.
You can look at it, analyze, and throw all the numbers you want to coronate Stephen Curry, but none of those will compare to the challenges that faced the ever so underrated Oakland, California point guard.
Yes, Curry was a member of the 50-40-90 club, and he led the league in both points per game and steals per game. Yes, the baby-faced assassin killed the Spurs at home, and in Alamo City during the Spurs’ only home loss this season. Yes, I remember the Saturday night instant classic overtime thriller in Oklahoma City and the shot seen around the world to win it. Yes, I remember the blowout of the Cavaliers in Cleveland, and the “hopefully it still smells a little bit like champagne,” comments.
Yes, Chef Curry was the orchestrator of the greatest regular season in NBA history as his Warriors went 73-9, but I dare every single one of you to show me a Klay Thompson who averaged 22.1 points per game, and a Draymond Green who averaged 14 ppg, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game, on top of being the best defender on the Warriors, and their spiritual and emotional leader.
Some of you will point to Lillard’s new partner in crime, C.J McCollum. McCollum can’t yet be compared because this past season was the first time he played a role in the Blazers’ season. He was drafted in 2013, and prior to this season in which he averaged 20.8 points per game, McCollum averaged just 5.3 points per game in 12 minutes (2013-14), and 6.8 in 15 minutes per game (2014-15). He was Wesley Matthews’ backup.
As of right now, McCollum’s situation is TBD. It is to be determined whether he can be a consistent 20-point scorer for the Blazers, and Lillard’s sidekick.
I don’t want to sound like a “hater” because Curry, and his Warriors deserve all the accolades they receive. They deserve all the praises they obtain. I’m just of the mindset that you can’t overlook players, and coaches who overachieve just because their team has a record that is not quite as good as another team.
This reminds me of the 2013 NFL season when Peyton Manning like Stephen Curry re-wrote the record books on his way to his fifth MVP, while Tom Brady like Damian Lillard took a supporting cast that left everyone screaming “Belichick is jeopardizing Brady’s last years” all the way to the AFC Championship game.
So, while this NBA series is not in the Western Conference final, I can’t help but see the resemblance, and feel bad for Dame and Brady.
Before the season began every pundit, every analyst, and everyone that follows basketball declared the Portland Trail Blazers as a lottery team. And, yet the undersized, underrated superstar point-uard nicknamed Dame kicked open the superstar status door, and declared “sorry for dropping in!”
And delivered a season to remember. Dame you the real MVP.
Watch THIS Work! The WNBA Bets On Women
Ten years ago the motto of the Women’s National Basketball Association was to, ‘Expect Great’. Now a decade later and into the roaring 20’s of a whole new one and world, the league that tells you to watch them work truly has for all it’s worth.
The WNBA and CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has reached a monumental moment in the leagues history and its time to read all about it on Los Angeles Sparks twin superstar Chiney Ogwumike’s Twitter thread.
It tells us the CBA means…
When it comes to players salary and compensation there will be a 30% increase to the salary cap as the higher max pay player salary jumps like Lisa Leslie’s first dunk from $117,500 to $215,000. Whilst there will be an additional compensation for those top tier Candace Parker players around $300,000. Moving millions this is thee first time the league has moved units like this in six figures. And like Russell Westbrook why not? Because for every player like him there’s an Ogwumike. For every Candace a LeBron. Every Luka Doncic a Breanna Stewart. Every Larry Bird a Sue. Kobe Bryant, Diana Taurasi. For every Michael Jordan a Lisa Leslie.
Every insufferable, couch potato chip, sexist fans who unlike a Suffragette doesn’t believe women deserves equal pay needs to check their pockets…yep like Rakim said that’s nothing but lint. Now paid in full these women deserve this and more like diversity at the Oscars. Just as good as the men like Michelle Wie (she’s not the logos sons wife people) golfing with the guys of you claim you’re “woke” on social media but can’t wake up to this then you’re about as woke as still in bed gone half 12 in the afternoon. It feels like all those trumped up people who had a problem with a female ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. Or those old men who would rather bully a 17 year old girl with Aspergers online than believe in the actual happenings of climate change.
Sure there’s an argument that sportspeople shouldn’t be paid these ridiculous amounts of money. But the point is if the men get paid this much then why shouldn’t the women?
This should have happened a long time ago. But at least it’s happening now.
It’s about time.
Working mothers are also finally getting their due in a groundbreaking deal on this date. Players will receive a salary whilst on maternity leave with an additional new childcare stipend. Whilst up to $60,000 of progressive family planning benefits for veteran players for costs for adoption, surrogacy, oocyte cryopreservation, fertility and more. No longer will go hard greats like Skylar Diggins-Smith have to play whilst pregnant and hide it to protect herself whilst the CBA lists it as a “condition”.
Perks of the game that the men have had for years and the world class women deserve just as such also include individual hotel rooms for players, more mandatory leg room on flights (how important is this for basketball players? The NBA would cry personal foul if the King and them would be forced to fly economy), and further for the finances, off-season job opportunities with league partners that along with the salary rise will mean that WNBA players won’t, overplayed and underpaid have to go overseas in the off-season to earn more money to make ends meet in foreign leagues. Something which has been a conditioning condition and pay for play issue since the leagues inaugural inception.
And let’s not forget about the players mental health too in major improvements across the board and world to an issue still surrounded with stigma despite the lengths taken and measures made. More resources will be offered in addition to the adoption of a Nutrition Council that will aid peak performance by offering players a commitment to this optimization.
But it’s probably the stand made by the WNBA and the CBA against violence to women which is the most important. Ending domestic and all sorts of violence to women which has happened to players around the league and still happens everyday, effecting everyone needs to end NOW like it should have never happened. It seems like such a ridiculously obvious thing to say…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said.
Again and again until we don’t have to.
The wide world has finally met the standards of the women’s game and league on the way to leveling the playing field. More of the same…do we really need to add the please now?
Betting on sporting events is a losers game. But betting on women-like the ones in this league-is a sure thing.
The game changed for real today.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 20 Pts, 20 Rebs, 10 Asts first Canadian NBA triple-double since 2006
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, ON) became only the second Canadian basketball player in NBA history to record a triple-double — and the first in nearly 14 years, since Steve Nash in 2006.
Gilgeous-Alexander racked-up 20 points, career-high 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The former one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat continued his efficient campaign shooting 8-of-12 field goals, connecting 2-of-3 triples and 2-of-2 from the foul-line.
Steve Nash recorded three triple-doubles in his illustrious 18-year career, the last one on April 19, 2006 — Nash finished with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
The 20 rebounds is also a record-high by a Canadian guard and only the second 20/20 double-double by a Canadian — Jamaal Magloire notched a 22 point, 21 rebound game against the Toronto Raptors’ on March 21, 2004.
Most rebounds by a Canadian in the NBA
Samuel Dalembert (Montreal, QC) holds the record for the most rebounds in a NBA game with 23 against the Golden State Warriors on March 20, 2009. Followed by Magloire 22 and Tristan Thompson with 21.
Gilgeous-Alexander becomes the youngest guard to record 20-20-10 stat-line and joins Russell Westbrook as the only guards with a 20-point, 20-rebound triple-double over the last 30 seasons. He is also the youngest player in NBA history with a 20-rebound triple-double, passing Shaquille O’Neal.
RJ Barrett became the first Canadian basketball player to record a triple-double at the NCAA level in nearly 35 years during his lone freshman season with the Duke Blue Devils.
The OKC Thunder continue their playoff push with their 18 victory in the last 25 games and currently sit in 7th place in the western conference.
The Canadian guard is currently averaging 20 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists — shooting 46.4% from the floor, 33.6% from three-pointers and 81.6% from the foul-line while turning the ball over just 1.9 per game.
Canada NBA All-Star Drought
The 2020 NBA All-star game in Chicago is less than month away and as it currently stands, Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t currently rank as one the top fan vote earners in a guard heavy western conference. Nevertheless, the Canadian stud could end Canada’s eight year NBA all-star game drought by earning a coach’s selection.