The Portland Trail Blazers may not have had quite the season they expected in 2016-17, especially after a surprise run to the second round of the playoffs last season and doling out a number of big contracts in the summer. Still, they showed some resilience in battling back from a rough start to take the eighth seed in the West.
Unfortunately, that meant a meeting with the Golden State Warriors, who, though the Blazers were right there in two of the games, swept Portland out of the playoffs. With the end of their postseason journey came the awarding of playoff shares, an extra sum of money each playoff team receives, with more money awarded the further a team gets.
The day after the Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs with a disappointing sweep at the hands of Golden State, Lillard still had one task to perform: Getting the rest of the team to sign off on donating their playoff checks.
When a team makes the playoffs, they are awarded a bonus check. This season, any team participating in the first round of the playoffs was given $223,864 to be divided among players. For the Blazers, that is roughly $16,000 per player.
As captain for the past two seasons, Lillard has made it clear to his teammates that their playoff checks should be donated to the Blazers' support staff, which consists of everybody from massage therapists to the trainers at the practice facility.
Once again this season, with Lillard going from player to player to assure they followed through, the team voted to give up their full shares. The money was divided among 25 support staff, with some getting more than others depending on their role.
"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 said after the season. "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.''
This is just really awesome by Lillard and the rest of the team, and I'm sure it is greatly appreciated by the Blazers' staff. Even for NBA players making millions of dollars, an extra $16K would be pretty sweet, but for someone on the support staff, a few extra grand could change their life. It could help them pay off their student loans, or buy a car, or take care of rent for a few months.
Shout out to the Trail Blazers for taking care of the people that take care of them, and especially to Lillard, for the leadership to make sure his teammates followed through on this gesture.