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"This feat will mean a lot to me."

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — It was during the 2018 midseason game against the Toronto Raptors that Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard realized he had a chance to make history.

After the contest, former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts presented Lillard with a game ball with a message.

Stotts thanked him for being a special player on and off the court and congratulated him on reaching 10,000 points, the fastest in franchise history.

“I was like, ‘Damn, you got 10,000 already?'” Lillard told Yahoo Sports, recalling those days. The point was that if I was consistent I could score in the high 20,000s.As a scorer, 20,000 is always considered a special point.From that moment on, I knew it was possible. I know, but that’s when I first got Clyde Drexler’s [scoring] Record as a team. “

A Hall of Famer and one of the top guards in NBA history, Drexler is the Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer with 18,040 points.

Lillard, 32, will pass Drexler by 531 points in the 2022-23 season next month to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.

“You and I know that records are made to be broken, but I can’t think of a better player or person to break records than Dame,” Drexler told Yahoo Sports. He embodies being a team player and going about his business professionally.I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.When he comes close to hitting a record and our schedule. If we can, I’d love to work with him as much as I can.It’s a good milestone to achieve and I look forward to seeing him achieve it.”

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damien Lillard is closing in on Clyde Drexler’s franchise scoring record. (Caitlin Mulcahy/Getty Images)

There was a time when it seemed like Lillard had to bail out his goal of claiming the record.

In the 2021 offseason, the six-time All-Star has pondered his future with the organization after an embarrassing first-round loss at the hands of a depleted Denver Nuggets team.

Desperate to fight for a championship with the Trail Blazers, it was the first time in his career that he seriously questioned whether the front office shared his desperation.

Over the years, Drexler shared advice with Lillard.

Drexler requested a trade from Portland in his 12th season and was traded to the Houston Rockets in 1995, winning his only NBA title that same season.

“Clyde wanted to see me win at Portland,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports of his conversation with Drexler. “But he told me to do what I had to do to be happy. He also said, ‘Hold the organization accountable.’ At the time, I was so close that I didn’t want to miss the chance to pass Drexler. I mean, there I am. I certainly thought about it, but I never believed I would be leaving Portland. It all worked out in the end.

Lillard’s all-time scoring average is under 25 points. If he can maintain this level, he could become the Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer in just 22 games.

Drexler broke the record in his 12th season. Lillard plans to break it in the 11th.

“This feat will mean a lot to me,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. I think it shows how productive it was.It’s a real honor.”