How Kobe Bryant Perfectly Predicted Damian Lillard’s Future After his Debut

Published 01/27/2021, 6:00 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 26: Laker Kobe Bryant #24 as the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 to win the series during game five of a first round Western Conference playoff basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Monday April 27, 2009 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)


What’s better for any player than to have his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment with Kobe Bryant? Well, Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar Damian Lillard is the lucky one. It was his first preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers back in October 2012. The sixth overall pick in that year’s draft can’t forget that day, even now.

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Couldn’t digest standing next to Kobe Bryant

Lillard can remember every single detail from that night. He said, “I just remember going out there and seeing Kobe lined up over there, and I was just like man, I wonder if he going to come out here and take it serious or he’s going to come out here and take it easy, it’s just a preseason game.

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“I remember just watching him just like I’m really about to line up against Kobe, you know? And that’s like my first memory.”

Reality didn’t hit him very soon. He further narrated, “I was just in awe of the fact that my very first game of the preseason was against Kobe. He had Dwight [Howard] and all those guys on the team. I just remember like I didn’t say nothing to him, and he didn’t really say nothing to me.

“I was just like; I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to act or whatever. I just went out there and played. We ended up playing well, we won the game, so that was that.” Portland ended up winning that game 93-75. Although, it wasn’t until later that Kobe noticed Dame.

DENVER, CO – MAY 7: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Damian Lillard made his impression

When Lillard made his NBA debut, he ended up scoring 23 points and 11 assists. In fact, he made history by joining Allen Iverson and Oscar Robertson in a stellar record. In this game as well, the Blazers prevailed over the Lakers, and this is when Kobe saw Dame’s potential.

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“I think the world of him,” Bryant told NBCSNW Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes after that first meeting. “It’s my first time really watching him play outside the preseason. He has a great, great deal of talent. Seems to be fearless. I think he has a really bright future.”

The two continued to lock horns during games, trying to one-up the other. But who can beat Kobe? Nobody. Even after his passing, Lillard has talked about his admiration for Kobe frequently. And will continue to do so, just like everyone else.

022738.SP.0115.lakers7.WS Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during the National Anthem at the Staples Center Monday against the Vancouver Grizzlies. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Read also- Legendary Tattoo Artist Reveals Kobe Bryant Wanted to Tattoo Capri’s Name Before His Untimely Death

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Yashima Bhatia

1341 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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