‘New Hibachi’: Former NBA Legend Gives Away His Title to Blazers’ Damian Lillard And Breaks Down Why

Published 03/06/2021, 10:30 PM EST
Jan 30, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) celebrates with his teammates after making the game winning three point basket at the buzzer against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


Just a few weeks ago, Damian Lillard was snubbed from the All-star starters list, leading to widespread bewilderment amongst the NBA community. No one could come up with logical reasons to understand how the voters left out the classy shooter from the coveted berth that belonged to him. However, it all cooled down when they named him in the reserves. 

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Later, in an obvious move, LeBron James picked him first from the reserves list, showing how important the Trail-Blazer was. Had it not been for Nets teammate James Harden, chances were strong that Kevin Durant would’ve taken him on his side before Bron. 

But apart from these names, Dame’s well-wishers come from the preceding era too.

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When an NBA legend added some respect to Dame’s game and name

Gilbert Arenas entered the league in 2001 as a Warrior and later joined the Wizards just as Michael Jordan left them. Agent Zero enjoyed some of the best years of his career in DC before his stints with Magic and Grizzlies. During the pinnacle of his career, he earned a nickname, The Hibachi, for himself. Notably, his teammate Brendan Haywood gave him that name because he would heat up like a Japanese Grill.

In a recent interview, the legendary player passed that name to Damian Lillard. He reasoned, “When people say ‘who’s better, you or Dame?’ I say at this point, Dame. With me getting injured, I never got to exceed where he is now. He’s been evolved the #0. That’s why I say he’s the new Hibachi.”

The two players hold a lot in common between them. The heights of Gilbert (6’3”) and Dame (6’2”) are almost the same, and both of them played as point guards.

Plus, the former represented the Wizards for a long time in his career but never won a ring. Similarly, Dame is the face of Blazers but still far from getting that title shot. Even their playing career’s best seasons recorded similar averages, but Lillard obviously leads overall.

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The 30-YO is one of the best point guards in the league alongside fellow rivals in Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving. In the 2020-21 season, he has replicated his performance from last season, with a better FT% and also increased shot attempts from the field. 

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As the 39-YO Arenas later noted, “Dame is the grandmaster at that killer instinct, coming off the floor and doing his thing, dictating what he wants and how he wants this game to be played. You have to understand, being a hero comes with being a failure also. And when you’re an assassin, none of it matters. I’m here to kill, any means necessary, if I fail, see you tomorrow. I was an assassin, Jordan was an assassin, Kobe is an assassin. You have the game and you have an assassin, someone who tries to control it. And Dame is one of those guys.”

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Finding one’s name in the same conversation as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant is a huge compliment. But one thing that differentiates these names and Lillard is an NBA Championship win. Do you think Dame will ever win an NBA ring? Help us know your views in the comments.

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Sourabh Singh

1128 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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