SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Damian Lillard called his shot before the competition even started.
“I told them I was winning tonight,” Lillard said. “Everybody kind of laughed, but I was like, ‘I’m serious.”
The third time was the charm for the former Weber State star. Wearing a jersey from his alma mater, Lillard defeated 2022 winner Buddy Hield and his Indiana Pacers teammate Tyrese Haliburton in the finals to win the trophy.
“I feel like everything just lined up,” Lillard said. “Being back here and going to school here, I was here four years with a lot of family and friends. I feel the love. I know that I’m welcome here. It’s a second home for me. Sometimes that’s what it takes for an experience to be what it’s supposed to be.”
Lillard said he came up with the idea of wearing the Weber State jersey a few weeks ago, and received approval from the NBA.
“It turned out to be perfect,” he said. “Especially now that I won it, to give that exposure to Weber State.”
Jazz All-Star Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points in the first round, but that wasn’t enough to advance to the semifinals.
“That was fun,” Markkanen said. “It was obviously a great field of shooters. I thought I had a chance, but a couple shots rimmed out.”
Markkanen said the crowd at Vivint Arena was a big help.
“It helped a lot,” he said. “I thought after the second rack that I had it.”
Markkanen and Lillard will both play in the All-Star Game Sunday night at 6:00 p.m.