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“That Was Pretty Cool”: A Damian Lillard Shoutout After “I’m Him” Moment Stands Tall For Lakers’ Austin Reaves

Published 09/27/2023, 1:57 AM EDT

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Austin Reaves undeniably stands as a key player for the Los Angeles Lakers roster. Over the years, he has ascended from a humble role player to a dependable force on the offensive end. Displaying remarkable efficiency across the entirety of the court, Reaves possesses a talent for getting to the charity stripe. Despite his lack of athleticism, he consistently seeks out opportunities to impact the game. Moreover, akin to a coach’s favourite student, Reaves exhibits an ability to make astute decisions on the court. Furthermore, he serves as a crucial linchpin, bridging the Lakers’ first and second unit.

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Recently, Reaves inked a lucrative four-year, $56 million early bird maximum contract with the Lakers. The franchise has certainly recognized his contribution and has sided with the youngster for years to come. Nevertheless, his journey to stardom was anything but swift and effortless.

Damian Lillard backed Austin Reaves on his “I’m Him” game


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During a recent podcast appearance with Zach Lowe, Austin Reaves delved into his remarkable ascent in the NBA. Reaves vividly recounted one of the pinnacle moments in his career – earning the trust and respect of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Such a recognition, he emphasized, stood as a defining high point in his journey thus far.

As the conversation flowed, Lowe inquired about Reaves’ experience of receiving appreciation from strangers, in parallel light of how Reaves was relatively unknown in the league. To this, Raves replied, “I don’t think there was a text like that. I think Dame had tweeted something. Along the lines of me taking over the game basically and that was one. Coz I don’t know him. I don’t know anybody in the league to be honest other than my teammates. Bu that was the one I think was probably the first one I seen when I pulled up social media. That was pretty cool.”


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In a show of admiration, Damian Lillard took to Twitter to commend Austin Reaves. The tweet came after Raves’ electrifying fourth-quarter takeover during Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies this season – where he displayed his iconic “I’m Him” gesture.

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Throughout the closely contested matchup, Austin notched 23 points. When the pressure reached its zenith, Reaves stepped up in a big way. He scored 14 of the 23 points in the fourth quarter while orchestrating a sequence of rattling nine consecutive points.


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San Antonio Spurs were after Reaves before his re-signing

In a surprising turn of events, the San Antonio Spurs came close to a substantial contract offer for Reaves. A scoop shared by Jovan Buha reveals that Spurs seriously contemplated not just one but two separate offer sheets for Austin.

During Lowe’s podcast, Reaves shed light on the situation, emphasizing, “I didn’t think there was any way that the Lakers didn’t match whatever was offered. They [Lakers] pretty much made it pretty clear that they were gonna match whatever. You think about it a little bit. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be in L.A.”


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The Spurs are building around their generational talent, Victor Wembanyama. A prospect like Reaves would have granted them a player who can hold his ground and also make team plays throughout the 48 minutes. 

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan


One take at a time

Saahil Dhillan is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He has been writing articles and blogs for 5 years now, including those for a sports brand that manufactures knee braces, for a Red Bull athlete in 2019 and for a documentary of an Ultra Running Coach in 2021. There’s plenty Saahil can write about why he likes basketball, having followed the NBA for more than 10 years, but he is most keen on picking out various offense/defense strategies, on/off-court decisions, roster changes in crunch time and other underrated key elements that leave an impact on the scoreboard.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe