Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is finally being recognized again as one of the best in the game.
Lillard will clock in at the 67th All-Star game at Staples Center on Feb. 18, his first since 2015.
"Everybody knows that the last two years I felt like I should have made it but I didn't, but I just had to keep on playing, stay with it, stay positive," said Lillard. "I think I put myself in a position that it was a no-brainer."
No-brainer indeed, but a long time coming.
"I just wanted to get back because I felt like it was something they didn't want to give me and it was something I had to chase," Lillard said.
"We all felt like he was deserving in the first place, so it's a good day in Blazerville," said Coach Terry Stotts.
Crediting the team success through these first 47-games, Lillard learned of his third All-Star nod late Tuesday afternoon. The coaches ballot had the 27-year-old as one of seven reserves from the west, which has a rather different look than his first go around.
"I was also there with Kobe and Tim Duncan and all of those guys so that was a pretty cool experience, so this one is different but they have all been pretty special," said Lillard.
The sixth year pro has been the one real constant in an inconsistent Blazer season so far.
"I just feel like I really had to earn this one for three years, just really appreciative of it. A lot of it has to do with our team success," Lillard said.
He joins only LeBron James, Steph Curry and James Harden to post an average of at least 25 points, six dimes and four boards.
As for the shade thrown by Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook complaining about others whining about being snubbed, was it directed at Lillard?
"I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that. Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year," said Lillard.
As far as doing more at All-Star weekend, Lillard hasn't been asked to be in the Three-Point Contest yet.
Either drafted by Team Lebron or Team Curry, he'd certainly like to perform better and get more minutes, playing nine and 16 minutes back in 2014 and 2015.
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