Portland Trail Blazers: Four forgotten moments that led up to Damian Lillard’s legendary shot

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

One year ago today, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard changed the course of history in one shot. Here are four moments you may have forgotten along the way.

Put yourself in Damian Lillard’s adidas for a second. You can pick the colorway; you can write an inspirational message wherever you see fit. But just be sure you’ve laced them tight, because what’s ahead is a daunting task unlike anything you’ve seen before.

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The second you cross that line, two defenders are waiting for you. And not just any two defenders — Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Over the next week, you’re going to be trapped on every pick-and-roll, and met at nearly half-court. And for every “right play” you make — the unselfish pass —  the media is going to vilify you throughout the summer, long after your Portland Trail Blazers have been eliminated.

The people you work with closest are going to be subject to trade rumors. You’ve got big money and big confidence. But everyone won’t be able to afford the rose-colored glasses needed to understand the championship window that only you see.

Definitely not after two sweeps in successive years.

Such was the case with Damian Lillard. That summer represented perhaps the lowest point of his professional career. In the huddle one year later, Lillard reminded his guys: We’ve seen the lowest before. But that summer, he was intent on ensuring he didn’t have to answer DJ Casper’s famous question in the Cha-Cha Slide, of “how low can you go?”

Over the next few months, Lillard presumably kept the naysayers in his back pocket as he attacked what he saw to be a glaring flaw. In order to combat those traps and keep defenses honest, the need to extend his range.

He and his trainer, Phil Beckner, took to the offseason, dedicating themselves to that range. In this series, against defensive stalwarts to the tune of Paul George, Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant, Lillard was accurate on all five of his 3-pointers from 30-feet out.

Show me a fun discussion, and I’ll show you one even more exciting. The climax that was Damian Lillard’s 37-foot, “comfortable range” stepback will forever live in infamy, to some as the greatest shot in basketball history. But, how about the behind-the-scenes sweat that went into the final production?

On this night, Lillard became just the third player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in a series-clinching game (Michael Jordan in 1992, Charles Barkley in 1994). In understanding the lead-up to that shot, that moment, here are five moments you may have forgotten along the way.