The Portland Trail Blazers’ lit guard has been getting buckets, creating highlight films and doing the NBA opposition dirty, averaging 22.4 points per game since he broke into the league in 2012-13 and won Rookie of the Year. He splashed a career-high 27.0 ppg last season, but was snubbed from the Western Conference All-Star squad.
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Getting overlooked by the voting fans has almost become a yearly occurrence for Lillard who hasnt made the All-Star squad since 2014 and 2015, when 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook was sharing shots with KD, The Legend of Steph Curry was just popping off and The Beard wasnt given the green light to go gorilla in Mike DAntonis high-flying brand of Euro ball yet. Before Lonzo Balls media machine came to LA too.
Fans account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters for the 67th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. All current NBA players and a panel of basketball media account for 25 percent each of the vote.
Times have changed, but Lillard’s pissed off about another starting All-Star snub (The 14 reserves choices will be selected by NBA head coaches next week on Tuesday January 23.)
Bleacher Report says Lillard is “frustrated” with the “lack of respect he’s received in terms of NBA All-Star selections.
Lillard addressed the topic in an interview with Chris Haynes of ESPN.com:
“I’ve gotten frustrated just for the fact that it feels like I always got to be the fall guy and every other guy has been deserving. In the past, the thing has been, ‘All right, my team has been 10 games under .500 or not in the playoffs,’ but every year we’ve found a way to be in the postseason, and this year I think we’re in much better position than we have been in the past two seasons that I didn’t make it. I think I’ve gotten over the emotional part of it the last few times that I didn’t make it. Now I’m kind of like expecting it to go that way, but I feel like I should be there.”
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Lillard is getting another dose of “Don’t nobody care about Portland.” Even though he ranks sixth among all NBA point guards in Player Efficiency Rating, while Lonzo Ball is 52nd, Lillard ranked eighth among Western Conference guards entering the final week of voting. Ball was nearly 30,000 votes ahead of him in seventh.
“He plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most, if not the most, storied franchises in that big of a market,” Lillard told Haynes. “So, so many people are going to support him throughout that, and also with his dad and all the attention that’s been surrounding him since college. There’s a lot of people that follow him, so, that’s not really a surprise to me. The market size and what’s going on with his family, it’s no surprise really to me.”
DeMarcus Cousins says Damian Lillard should “absolutely” be an All-Star
I hear all that, but, If you ask me, thats on Lillard. Hes the one who signed the five-year, maximum rookie $125 million extension in 2015 when he was a high roller in the league and his team was more competitive. He chose to be the face of that franchise. And while players often reconcile their situation by saying the money is the same everywhere, unfortunately the market and the fans arent the same everywhere.
Playing in Portland doesn’t provide the same opportunities as playing in New York or LA. I dont care how small the internet has made the world. Small market players dont get revered or criticized with the same intensity. The larger markets tend to birth the superstars, with a few exceptions where players create their own markets (See LeBron James and Cleveland).
Portland is 22nd in the NBA in television market size. The Top 3 markets are New York, L.A. and Chicago. Philly and Dallas-Ft. Worth round out the Top 5 TV markets.
That matters when you want fans to vote you to an All-Star game. Fans vote on popularity and who they see the most. So if your team is a losing squad that plays on the West Coast – where late games on national TV are dominated by the title contenders in Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the two L.A. squads, with Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets rising in popularity and flooded with notable names – in all likelihood youre going to take a backseat.
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Lillard had his chance to come to New York or LA or Philly, but he wanted to be the face of a franchise and get paid. Yes, he deserves more props for his play, but to accomplish that he has to play on a championship caliber team, sign with a major market club with championship potential or adopt LaVar Ball as your PR pops. Lillard hasnt done any of those things lately.