PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was honored Tuesday by the Professional Basketball Writers Association as the winner of the 2016-17 Magic Johnson Award.
The award "honors the player who best combines excellence on the basketball court with cooperation and dignity in dealing with the media and the public," according to the PBWA website.
“I take pride in establishing a professional and respectful rapport with the media, so it's an honor to be recognized," Lillard said.
The past three recipients of the Magic Johnson Award were Stephen Curry, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki.
Well deserved. Dame is always accommodating with his time. https://t.co/cKHoRlj8NV— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) May 2, 2017
Lillard's treatment of the media is an extension of the way he deals with everyone around him, according to Jason Quick, Blazers beat writer for Comcast Sports Northwest.
In an article published Tuesday morning, Quick shared several anecdotes detailing how Lillard treats others, establishing around the Blazers a culture of hard work, accountability, relationships and caring.
One of the stories cited by Quick shared how Lillard has committed his teammates the past two seasons to donating their playoff checks — the amount this year totaled $223,864 — to the 25 members of the Blazers' support staff as a show of appreciation at the end of the season.
“We divide our playoff shares to give to the people who we work so closely with because they spend as much time away from their families as we do, and they are just about as invested as we are,’’ Lillard told Quick.
“They also do as much as possible to make our lives easier, even if it makes theirs more difficult — all while making far less. So it’s a further way of showing appreciation beyond a thank your or a handshake."
Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW.