Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | 15:45 WIB

“It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same category as Michael Jordan”

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Damian Lillard, 2024 NBA All Star’s Game MVP

Jakarta, IO – Damian Lillard is brilliant. He took center stage and lit up at the 2024 NBA All-Star. Lillard became the first player in NBA history to win the Tripoint Contest and MVP of the All-Star Game in the same year. 

He also joins Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Glen Rice, and Larry Bird as players to have won both awards during their careers. 

He joined Michael Jordan as the only other player in league history to win a Saturday night event and be named an MVP in the same All-Star Weekend. His scoring 39 points to lead the Eastern Conference to a 211-186 win over the West is the highest-scoring midseason exhibition to date. Lillard won the 3-point contest on Saturday, edging the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl Anthony Towns and the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young in the final round. Jordan won the dunk contest in 1988. 

“Anytime you’re mentioned in the same category as Mike, it’s an honor, it’s a major accomplishment, even if it’s All-Star Weekend,” Lillard said during his postgame news conference with the Kobe Bryant MVP trophy placed on the table in front of him. “Because if it was that simple, more people would have done it,” said Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks’ player as quoted by ESPN. 

It was his eighth All-Star appearance, but his first time to be named a starter. 

“I’m a vet in the game at this point,” Lillard, 33, said. “Why not go and try to get an MVP? Since I’ve been here long enough.” 

For Lillard, who joined the Bucks in an offseason trade after spending the first 11 years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, it was a welcome weekend in the midst of a challenging stretch for Milwaukee. 

“It’s been a tough year, just the transition to a new team; we’ve had three coaches since I’ve been there,” Lillard said, alluding to Doc Rivers’ surprise replacement of Adrian Griffin and Joe Prunty’s brief interim stint. “Any time you have these types of experiences where you have adversity … I think that’s the time you got to show who you really are. Keep doing what you do, keep believing, and when you do that, usually it comes back to you. 

Read: Consistently Upgrading Herself

“You just can’t fold.” 

The same couldn’t be said for each All-Star team’s defensive efforts. “I think it could be more competitive,” Lillard admitted. 

“I think 200 is a lot to be scored. It just shows that we didn’t go out there and compete like I guess you would want us to or whoever would want us to. But I think that’s just what it is. Guys are talented. Make a lot of shots. We hit a lot of 3s, and that was it.” (rp)

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