This week a huge thing happened for Weber State University sports. Damian Lillard declared himself eligble for the NBA draft.
Lillard is one of the greatest players to come to WSU. He has led the Wildcats in nearly every category and should have a solid career in the NBA. I was thinking about this season, and what sticks out to me the most about Lillard was what I saw off the court.
This season when I was still the sports editor, I had the pleasure of covering Lillard and was constantly impressed by him and his character. Not only is he one of the best players to ever grace the Dee Events Center, he is an amazingly classy person.
I first interviewed Lillard over the summer; he took part in a summer tournament in California. I called him to ask a few questions, and he told me he would call me back in a few minutes, but I didn’t hear from him till the next day. When I talked to him, he told me how sorry he was that he forgot to call me back. I was blown away that someone as important and as talented as he is would feel bad about forgetting to call me back.
The first time I actually met him was following the Purple and White game. After the game, Lillard came out of the locker room to talk with the press. The press for that game was pretty low key. In fact it was just me and Roy Burton of the Standard-Examiner, but Lillard came out and willingly gave an interview.
I was impressed that he would take time to come speak to just two members of the press. As the year wore on and I had more opportunities to speak with Lillard, I came to realize he is just that kind of person. If someone wanted to do an interview with him, he’d make time.
Throughout the year, I found that he is genuinely a great guy. He never seemed too busy for an interview and would always get back to me even if it was a text at 10 p.m. It was refreshing to me that he was still so down to earth despite the fact that his stock was going through the roof.
Another moment that stuck out to me about his character was seen in nearly every press conference. If he had a big game, he always credited his teammates first. It was never about him. He is easily one of the humblest athletes I’ve ever met.
After the conclusion of the season, I checked his Twitter feed every day, hoping to see that he was going to the NBA. As much as I have loved watching him play, he deserves to make it big. I will miss watching him next year, but he is probably the biggest start to come out of WSU and has a great chance to be the first Wildcat ever taken in the first round of the draft.
Damian, I wish you the best. While I don’t think you really know who I am aside from that guy who’s always in press conferences, you’ve really stood out to me, not only as a player, but as a person.