So the formula to get the best out of Damian Lillard is to ignore him. Taken with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, which was also known as the Anthony Davis sweepstakes? Win Rookie of the Year and pull off a historic NBA All-Star Weekend performance where he participated in every event on Saturday Night. Known nationwide mostly as the second banana behind LaMarcus Aldridge? Roll off two straight All-Star appearances. Left to fend for himself after his follow Portland starters bolted for other teams, left off the 30-man Team USA pool, left behind this past February’s All-Star team? Put up mind-boggling numbers, lead the Trail Blazers to a potential playoff spot and get invited back to Team USA. If there’s one thing we’ve learned this NBA season that doesn’t involve Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors – whom Lillard beat and lit up for 51 points – it’s that Dame doesn’t take too kindly to slights.
And yet here we are ignoring him again. His second Adidas signature shoe, the adidas D Lillard 2, is available now, but you can be forgiven if you forgot that it existed. After a solid first year with the adidas D Lillard 1, the Lillard 2 went for a more performance-based look that still managed to maintain a very fan-friendly price point. With John Wall out and Derrick Rose receding into the background, Lillard seemed poised for even bigger things. But in the signature shoe landscape, the Lillard 2 has been overshadowed by the Nike giants and now, he has to deal with growing Stephen Curry behemoth over at Under Armour. And then there’s the matter of when sneakerheads talk about adidas, they’re talking about Kanye West, the NMD, the ZX Flux and everything else under the Originals banner before they get to Dame. We’ve already shown you what is possible with the adidas D Lillard 2 on mi adidas and what a great option they are, but it just doesn’t seem to hit with the audience.
So what does Dame do? He shows up at Foot Locker to give away and sign Lillard 2s for the fans to build his audience. He goes on social media talking to the people and getting them involved with #4BarFriday. He scores 51 points and beats Steph and the Warriors and posts another 50-point performance in a losing effort. He keeps on getting better and building the Lillard empire in the Northwest without a lot of people noticing. It’s a slow burn, but just like the Blazers surprising the NBA, Dame is doing what he can to speed up the process.
So many signature shoe lines have their line in the sand moment with the third or fourth model. Take the Air Jordan 3 and 4 and see just how important they are to Michael Jordan’s legacy in the sneaker world. The Nike Zoom KD 4 catapulted Kevin Durant to the spotlight. Kobe Bryant’s fourth signature shoe with both adidas (THE KOBE) and Nike (Nike Zoom Kobe 4) were game-changers. As the biggest and best name still standing in adidas Basketball, Damian Lillard is in a great position to be their flagship athlete (sorry, James Harden). The adidas D Lillard 2 has a long way to go (people are just realizing that there is a Boost version), but you can bet that if Dame can once again have a strong showing in the playoffs and work his way into the Team USA roster in Brazil this summer, the Lillard 3 could potentially be huge for adidas and Dame.
Curry might not be the only lights-out shooter who is climbing up the signature shoe ranks. We live in a world now where the Under Armour Curry Two could potentially outsell the Nike LeBron 13. If Dame can continue this upward trend with the Blazers and maybe form a possible rivalry with Steph and the Warriors, it’s not impossible to see a day where kids are not just going to the swoosh for the sake of the swoosh. Who would have thought that as recently as this summer when Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and the rest moved on? I’m going to say Dame and that’s about it. And he probably likes it that way.
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