Damian Lillard may be done with basketball for the season, but he is far from being done fetching headlines. On Wed. April 29 it was announced the Portland Trail Blazers All-Star will also be a keynote speaker at graduation at Weber State University, his alma mater.
Will No. 0 namedrop the three O’s for which that number stands–er, Ogden, Oakland and Oregon? Will he rock his Damian Lillard Adidas in school colors with that cap and gown? And, will he try to forget about the fact his Blazers were just eliminated earlier this week in the NBA playoffs? Indeed he will, but there’s more to this ceremony than just showing up and saying a few words.
Not the ending we wanted…but another 50 win season… Another playoff experience… More growth and a lot to look forward to. #RipCity, Lillard tweeted Wednesday.
Lillard couldn’t be more right about the situation, Because in addition to speaking at the event, he is also walking down the aisle to receive his own degree. And so the ceremony takes on added meaning then, because Lillard himself will be receiving his Bachelor’s degree in professional sales–something a long time in coming but part of a promise the Oakland, Calif. native made years ago to his family.
In a way, you could say that Lillard being available for the ceremony is bittersweet. On the other hand, it’s a joyous occasion for the former Weber State men’s basketball star because he’s not only appearing at the ceremony, he’s got a speech to give as well.
“I was on the phone, I think, and I was telling my agent about how it would work if I was to go to graduation if we were in the playoffs,” Lillard said in an interview back in March.
How it would go down, if he were drawing this up on a chalkboard, is rather crazy. First, he’d spend five years at Weber State, deal with serious injuries, win the league MVP trophy, then take another route away from Ogden making millions in the NBA, become an All-Star and get his own shoe deal.
Then, he’d appear on a TV commercial with Chris Paul and Don, er, John Stockton–arguably two of the greatest guards to ever play basketball. And then, he’d return to school, be like the others, and make everyone proud by earning a college degree. The chalkboard would have all kinds of arrows drawn all over it, but at the end of the diagram you could see a confluence emerging.
All arrows would point towards the Dee Events Center, the place where Lillard’s basketball talents first came to light. Then to speak in front of thousands and talk about something other than basketball, but rather about life, well, he probably thinks he couldn’t be back in a better place if he tried.