76ers fans chant “we want Lillard”, after the game he replies “I have 10 toes in Rip City”
When the opposing team is introduced before a 76ers game, Philadelphia fans boo them in a long-standing tradition. This is what happened Monday night when Portland was introduced – until they got to Damien Lillard. Then they applauded.
The first time Lillard made it to the free throw line in the game, 76ers fans started chanting “we want Lillard”.
The chants erupted again, later.
In case you haven’t followed the Ben Simmons is holding on and soap opera to start this season, the love for Lillard in Philly is attached to it. 76ers general manager Daryl Morey has yet to give in to Simmons’ trade demand because he was not able to get a “difference factor” in return. In Morey’s dream scenario, Lillard (or Washington’s Bradley Beal) would require an exchange and a deal could be made for Simmons. On Monday night, 76ers fans did their part to recruit Lillard.
He heard it, but Lillard wasn’t playing the game. Here are his post-game quotes, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
“Yeah, I heard it,” said Lillard, before adding with a smile, “I mean, this is the city of brotherly love, I guess. They showed some love to the brother, they showed me a little love, but that was it …
“I thought it was funny. It comes with professional sport. It’s fun, it’s a public thing, so I’m not uptight about it or act like I don’t recognize it.
“I know what it is and I know what it is. But I am a Trail Blazer. I appreciate the love. I appreciate the respect they showed and the desire or whatever, but I have 10 toes in Rip City, and I’ve said it over and over again and tonight I laughed at it for the eleven from the start but that was it.
Lillard always has said he wanted to win in Portland, and that new trainer Chauncey Billups is the reason (he wants to give the NBA legend a chance). Portland and Philadelphia have had trade talks over deal with Simmons, but nothing nearly came to fruition, and there is no way Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey will negotiate Lillard unless he demands it. League sources continue to say that is not happening, at least for a while (and within a while, we’re talking about the next offseason).
Give the Philadelphia fans credit, they tried. Much like Morey’s dream, it was always a long shot.
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