Lillard Joins Select Group After Passing 10,000 Point Milestone

by Casey Holdahl
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Right before he stepped onto the plane leaving Portland bound for Toronto Thursday afternoon, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard turned to a team staffer to make his opinion know about an upcoming milestone.

Said Lillard: “I think it’s about time I got to 10,000.”

He evidently wasn’t kidding, as he wasted little time putting himself over that mark in Friday night’s game versus the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

By finishing a driving finger roll layup with 34.9 seconds to play in the first quarter of Portland’s 130-105 loss to the Raptors, Lillard scored the 10,000th point of his career, becoming just one of seven players in franchise history to eclipse the 10k in scoring. What’s more, he became the fastest player in franchise history to surpass that mark, doing so in 441 career games, which is 59 games fewer than it took Portland's all-time scoring leader, Clyde Drexler.

"It’s another accomplishment, said Lillard, "and I always attribute those things to the amount of work that I put in it and how much time I put into my game, how committed I am to being a better player each year."

A few minutes later, Lillard would hit a three-pointer with 1:11 to play in the first quarter that put him past Jim Paxson for sixth in scoring in franchise history, an accomplishment that he attributed to hard work and a coach to believed in him ever since he was selected with the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

"Coach Stotts giving me the opportunity to play free, make mistakes and having that faith and trust in me," said Lillard of how he was able to move up the franchise ledger in relatively short order. "I think that has as much to do with it as my effort, just coming in and playing for a coach that is on your side. Gives you the opportunity to play free, be aggressive and be who you are. A lot of people deserve some of the credit for it, but it is something that I am really happy about, now I just have to keep on moving up."

Lillard joins LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony as the only active players to score at least 10,000 points in their first six seasons. What's more, with 2,745 assists, the 6-3 guard out of Weber State is now part of a select group of players in NBA history who have tallied at least 10,000 and 2,500 in their first six seasons.

"I’d like to acknowledge what Damian Lillard has accomplished in his time at Portland, 10,000 points and 2,500 assists in six years," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "The group of names: LeBron (James), Michael (Jordan), (Larry) Bird, (Nate) Archibald, (Pete) Maravich, (Dave) Bing, (Oscar) Robertson, it’s quite a list. All Hall of Famers, except for LeBron, I think he has a chance to get in too. I just need to acknowledge what he has done so far in six years and what he’s been for the team, for the franchise. I don’t want anybody to take that for granted."

One would hope nobody does, at least not in Rip City.