Stephen A. Smith didn't exactly go out on a long limb Tuesday with his rant that Damian Lillard would never win a championship as a Portland Trail Blazer.
Come on, let's face it. Smith could say that about just about any other max-salary player in the league who doesn't happen to be on a team with LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard.
I have so much more respect for a player like Lillard who wants to do it his way, with his team, than another guy looking to latch on to LeBron's coattails and ride them to an easy title.
You think Larry Bird or Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan would have chosen to be just another guy that James or Steph Curry hauled to a championship?
The point is, Lillard is determined to do it in Portland, where it would mean more to him and to the NBA if he could somehow win it all.
And it COULD happen. Not all the teams who have won titles over the last couple of decades have been dynasties. Not all have been loaded superteams. The Dallas Mavericks got a title and so did Toronto, just last season. And that Detroit team in 2004 wasn't exactly a team for the ages.
I believe Portland could build a team that for at least one season, could be as good as those teams.
Market size, demographics, weather -- all have made Portland anything but a prime free-agent destination. But Neil Olshey has made astute deals and, when healthy, this current team can beat anybody when at its absolute best. Another player or two in a key spot, it could happen.
And that title would belong to Damian Lillard. Not Lebron or Kawhi or Steph… or Stephen A. Smith.