Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is arguably the greatest player in the franchise’s history, and he recently revealed that he wants to cement his legacy with the Blazers franchise in a certain way.
Lillard, who is close to passing the legendary Clyde Drexler as the franchise’s leading scorer, explained that reaching that goal is one of the reasons he hasn’t left the team.
Drexler scored 18,040 points with the Blazers, and Lillard is currently at 17,510.
If he stays healthy, Lillard should easily pass the record, as he scored 695 points last season despite appearing in just 29 games.
While fans often speculate about the idea of Lillard leaving Portland, the franchise star isn’t following the same path that Drexler did in his Blazers career.
Drexler requested a trade from Portland after more than a decade with the team and landed with the Houston Rockets.
Lillard explained that Drexler told him that he wants to see him win with the Blazers.
“Clyde wanted to see me win in Portland,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “But he told me to do what I had to do to be happy. He also said, ‘Hold the organization accountable.’ And at that time, I was thinking I would hate to come this close and miss out on that opportunity to pass Drexler if I was to leave. I mean, I’m right there. I definitely thought about it, but I never really believed I would be leaving Portland. It ended up all working out.”
Lillard signed a two-year extension with the Blazers this offseason that will keep him with the organization through the 2026-27 season if he chooses to exercise his player option.
Damian Lillard has signed a two-year, $122M extension with the Trail Blazers, sources tell @BobbyMarks42.
The extension has a player option for the 2026-27 season. pic.twitter.com/hk0wEIyhAR
— ESPN (@espn) July 8, 2022
An abdominal injury kept Lillard out of the lineup for the majority of the 2021-22 season, and the Blazers struggled, missing the playoffs.
The six-time All-Star averaged 24.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game during the 2021-22 season while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc in the games that he played in.
Portland made a move for forward Jerami Grant this offseason to improve its roster, and there’s a chance the Blazers will sneak back into the playoff conversation with Lillard leading the way in the 2022-23 campaign.