Damian Lillard has accomplished a great deal in his eight years in the NBA. A perennial All-Star playing for the Portland Trailblazers, Lillard has ascended to superstar status. Over his last six games, however, he has elevated his game to historic heights, scoring at a clip rarely seen in NBA history. Lillard has repeatedly credited his faith for his ability to maintain his intensity and focus on the court.
How crazy has Lillard’s game been lately? Check this out:
Damian Lillard has been absurd his last 6 games:
♦️61 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast
♦️47 Pts, 6 Reb, 8 Ast
♦️50 Pts, 6 Reb, 13 Ast
♦️36 Pts 10 Reb, 11 Ast
♦️48 Pts, 9 Reb, 10 Ast
♦️51 Pts, 2 Reb, 12 Ast pic.twitter.com/qMlZJVqKey
— ESPN (@espn) February 2, 2020
These are numbers rarely seen since Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan. Lillard has won the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors two weeks in a row. Keep in mind, Lillard is a small point guard—listed at 6′ 2.” He has established his trademark shot—the Logo Lillard, a three-point shot made from the center court logo:
Lillard said multiple times after their defeat of the Utah Jazz that his faith was a key part of his success.
In the locker room after the game, he had this exchange with sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam:
Olzendam: Dame, you mentioned you’ve been working on your faith. What’s behind that, and how does that help you?
Lillard: When Anthony Tolliver came to the team, he wasn’t really pushing it, but you see how serious he was about it and constantly offering it out. A Bible study here. CJ [McCollum] would be like, let’s go to chapel. I also wanted to challenge myself coming into the season to make it to every chapel for every game. Since I’ve been doing that, I’ve been able to get deeper into my faith, even outside of chapel. Getting back to church, being in that environment, just being able to address myself personally, look in the mirror. I think when you do that you’re able to have a lot clearer mind. I just think that’s been a big help for me.
Superstar athletes often cite the need to improve on some aspect of their game during the offseason, to improve as their careers progress. Nutrition, sleep, core strength, flexibility, free-throws, passing—some detail of their game gets the focus so they can raise their game to a new level. Notably, Lillard specifically cited his focus on his faith as a main component of his journey to excel.
The result? A stretch of six games we may never have witnessed in the NBA. Dame has set records for consecutive games with six or more three-pointers (6); he averaged 45 points and 10 assists over those six games, a feat never before accomplished; and he has hit 13 of 21 shots from 30-40 feet over that stretch.
Lillard is second in the league in minutes played, so it remains to be seen if he can keep this torrid scoring pace going while essentially carrying his team. The Trailblazers have struggled this year after reaching the conference finals last season. Every season sees a point where the stars have to dig deep to overcome obstacles. It seems Lillard’s faith will continue to serve as a deep well from which to draw strength.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.