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Friday, February 23, 2024
Feb. 23, 2024

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For Lillard, it’s all or nothing for All-Star Game

Blazers guard won’t do Saturday festivities if not on team

By , Columbian Trail Blazers Writer

TUALATIN, Ore. — When it comes to certain things, Damian Lillard has a little Frank Sinatra in him.

He’s not a fan of doing things halfway, as evidenced by declining to be considered to be in the USA Basketball camp this summer when it’s evident he won’t have a shot to make the team.

And in line with his “All or Nothing At All” tendencies, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that if he isn’t chosen as an All-Star reserve when they are announced Thursday, he doesn’t plan to participate in Saturday night festivities such as the 3-point shootout.

“If I don’t make (the All-Star Game), I’m not going,” Lillard said definitively after Monday’s practice where he fielded several questions about his All-Star candidacy.

“If I don’t make it, I’m going on vacation instead, is that cool?” Lillard said to one of the several people on Twitter responding to his declaration that he will not be in Toronto if not selected.

But that doesn’t mean Lillard isn’t deserving of a spot, far from it.

Of any season, this year is one where Lillard has earned the designation of All-Star the most.

“More is being asked of him,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “He has much more responsibility. You can look at his scoring and that’s the easy answer. I think the responsibility that he has as the only leader as the point guard with a bunch of young players setting an example. All those things come into it as well.”

Statistically, the argument is rather easy that he’s had a higher workload, ending a career-high 31.1 percent of Portland’s possessions, which is seventh in the NBA while he’s sixth in points per game.

Just because he’s prepared for the scenario his name isn’t called doesn’t mean it won’t be a bummer to miss out on a reward for offseason workouts in sweltering gyms and ice baths during the season.

“I think for me right now I don’t need the validation of it, but just the reward for the time that you put in, what you do on the court,” Lillard said. “I think based on everything I just told you guys, that’s what I am. An All-Star. I’m in that group. I wouldn’t want to not be a part of that. That’s what you put your work in and put your time in for so that you can be your best on the floor. You want to be rewarded for it.”

But if the NBA is looking for a Portland representative on All-Star Saturday Night, Lillard’s buddy CJ McCollum volunteered his services while wearing an NBA-branded “This Is Why We Play” sweatshirt.

“I’m still waiting on the call,” said McCollum, who has plans to be in Toronto over the weekend anyway to attend player’s union meetings. “I haven’t gotten any calls for skills, 3-point shooting or anything. If they are looking for someone that’s already going to be there … I should be in the skills too.”

Columbian Trail Blazers Writer