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The Story Behind Damian Lillard’s Jersey Number

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“And a guard, 6’3″ from Weber State. Wearing the letter O. DAMMMMMMMMMIAN LILLLLARD!”

Wait. What? Did the announcer just introduce Damian Lillard saying he wears a letter instead of a number? That’s right, you heard it correctly. Damian Lillard doesn’t wear a jersey number. He wears a jersey letter.

The Portland Trail Blazer’s announcer introduces the Blazers’ star with a letter on the back of his jersey instead of a number. The letter O is symbolic for Lillard and how he has gotten to where he is at in the NBA.

Lillard is from Oakland, California. He bounced around high schools but eventually attended Oakland High School his junior and senior Seasons. He averaged 22.4 points per game his senior year and was overlooked by colleges everywhere. Lillard, who was rated a two-star prospect by most rating services, was only offered scholarships to a handful of Division 1 colleges. He eventually chose to commit to Weber State.

That leads us to the second O. Ogden. Weber State is located in Ogden, Utah. Lillard had an amazing career and burst onto the scene his first year at Weber State. He averaged 11.5 points his freshman year, earning him Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Big Sky Honors. Lillard made a huge leap his sophomore year averaging 19.9 points per game and earning the Big Sky Player of the Year. Lillard was forced to redshirt his junior year as it was cut short due to a foot injury. He bounced back for his junior campaign as he averaged 24.5 points per game, once again winning the Big Sky Player of the Year award. He chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

Per Game Table
Season School G MP FG% 2P% 3P% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS Awards
2008-09 Weber State 31 .434 .490 .374 3.9 2.9 1.1 0.2 2.3 11.5
2009-10 Weber State 31 34.3 .431 .470 .393 4.0 3.6 1.1 0.1 2.4 19.9 Big Sky POY
2010-11 Weber State 10 28.5 .438 .526 .345 3.8 3.3 1.4 0.2 2.8 17.7
2011-12 Weber State 32 34.5 .467 .517 .409 5.0 4.0 1.5 0.2 2.3 24.5 Big Sky POY
Career Weber State 104 33.6 .446 .497 .390 4.3 3.5 1.2 0.2 2.4 18.6
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/27/2017.

 

Damian Lillard was drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Bringing us to our third and final O. Oregon. Lillard has experienced an amazing career thus far while playing for Oregon’s hometown team. He won the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year, was a 2013-14 All-NBA Third Team Selection, and was a 2015-16 All-NBA Second Team selection. He has also led the Blazers to the playoffs three straight years.

Lillard’s stellar play now has the Trail Blazers tied with the Denver Nuggets for the last spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. Lillard has averaged 31.7 points per game over his last ten, ranking second in the league during that span. The Blazers as a team have also played good basketball. They have won three straight and are 7-3 in their last ten games to close the gap on the Nuggets.

As you can see by the shot chart below, Lillard has been lighting it up from all over the court over his last ten games.

Damian Lillard’s journey to Portland has not been an easy one. The star player has fought adversity every step of the way, each step encouraging him to work harder and harder. He has been forced to constantly change his approach and define his game over the years. In order to stick with the theme, here is one final O word to describe Lillard’s passion for the game of basketball: obsessive.

About Eric Peterson

Eric is currently studying Sport Management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Follow Eric on twitter @eric_peterson20

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