Kenny Smith applauds Damian Lillard and his budding rap career

Smith, a two-time NBA champion, did not sell Blazers star Damian Lillard short when talking about his growing rap presence.

Damian Lillard recently lit up the stage at JBL Fest in Las Vegas. Kenny Smith was on hand for the music festival and caught up with SLAM Magazine to discuss Lillard, as well as hip-hop’s place in music.

Upon hearing about Dame’s rap career, Smith said he was “excited to see if he was actually good because most rappers can’t play ball.”

But, Lillard became an exception to that rule.

Dame D.O.L.L.A made noise on Sway in the Morning with his freestyle, which made the rounds on social media.

That led to Music Mondays on Dame’s SoundCloud account, and even culminated into a full-length album, “The Letter O.”

The album includes features from Lil Wayne and Jamie Foxx, but Lillard’s presence is what gives it life.

With an album out, and the creation of his own label, Dame D.O.L.L.A set up a show in Portland to back up his rap hype.

This blossomed into multiple shows by Lillard, a couple new songs and people already asking if he’s the best athlete rapper.

(Spoiler alert: he is.)

Lillard’s successful performances didn’t stop at the Fest, as Smith notes “I was surprised at how he controlled the crowd. I’ve seen him control the crowd in an NBA arena, but he controlled the pool party crowd, which is kind of tough.”

Now, people are quick to say Dame should be in the gym instead of the booth. Yet, he’s a rising star in both.

Basketball players don’t spend their entire lives in the gym, as they are people too, with hobbies and free time they want to spend away from basketball.

With Lillard’s ascension in the rap game, knocking him down —  when he’s also a two-time All-Star — is ludicrous.

The guard is honing his craft in both areas. Don’t worry that he’s going to lose sight of basketball because rapping takes him away from it.