Damian Lillard
Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard expressed his admiration for Muhammad Ali before the All-Star Game festivities. Dame, who is a long known boxing fan, explained what Ali represents for him as an athlete.

(via NBC Sports Northwest):

“Muhammad Ali is my favorite athlete of all time,” Lillard said of The People’s Champion. “He’s not my favorite athlete of all-time because of what he did in the ring. I love what he represented outside of the ring regardless of what he might have been putting on the line with his boxing career.

Him being as big of a star as he was at that time. I’m not sure there’s been any athlete in history that was at his peak, and on top in terms of fame and success in their sport and was willing to give it all up for what he believed in. So, he the G.O.A.T. for a reason and it’s not just for what he did in the ring.

Lillard has a huge passion for the sport, as he is actively sharing intense workouts in the ring on social media during the offseason.

Like Ali, Lillard has a fighting spirit, especially when the game is on the line, as he is one of the most clutch players in the league since he entered the NBA in 2012.

The Blazers’ superstar is on a tear this season leading his team to the upper-echelon of the Western Conference (21-14). He averages 29.8 points, 8.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

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