As if Trailblazer fans needed another reason to root for their franchise point guard, this past Sunday Damian Lillard traveled up the I-5 corridor 40 miles to Longview, Washington to raise money for three great charity organizations. This marked the fifth straight year the All-NBA first teamer has visited the historic town and the fourth time he has done so at Mark Morris High School. Many Trailblazer fans may not know that the Blazers first pre-season game was played in September 1970 against the San Francisco Warriors at Mark Morris in front of 2,800 fans. The Blazers lost that game 119-118. Jerry Lucas led the Warriors that day with 28 points and 14 rebounds while the Blazers were led by Stan McKenzie who had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie Geoff Petrie added 14 points.
While it wasn't quite 2,800 in attendance Sunday, there were roughly 1,000 fans packed into the home of the Monarchs to support Lillard along with event sponsor Dick Hannah Dealerships at this year's "Threes for Threes" event. Festivities began outside of the school where Dick Hannah Toyota employees gave fans "Blazer Nation" banners, stickers, and facilitated a shooting station out of the back of a 2018 Toyota Tacoma. Once fans entered the gym, they were welcomed to Pop-A-Shot station, photo booth, as well as a free prize station. Music was provided by iHeartRadio and their onsite MC.
As people found their seats, Kent VanArnam, director of marketing for Dick Hannah Dealerships, welcomed the crowd and began raffling off signed Damian Lillard shoes and basketballs. In total, over 35 autographed items were given to fans along with 10 tickets to an upcoming Trailblazer game. VanArnam informed the fans that Damian would be shooting for three local charities in Cowlitz County: Lower Columbia School Gardens, Safe Kids Lower Columbia, and the Longview YMCA.
The main attraction began shortly thereafter when Lillard walked out of the locker room to a standing ovation. Lillard warmed up with the assistance of local youth as rebounders. It didn't take long for the three-time all-star to get loose and give the signal he was ready to begin. Lillard would shoot three rounds of 12 shots. With every make, the crowd would erupt in excitement as each successful three would net the community organizations $300. The conclusion would see Lillard hitting 29 of 36 three-point attempts netting $8700. VanArnam returned to the court to introduce the head coach of the Mark Morris boys basketball program, Bill Backamus. Backamus, who played college basketball with Lillard's agent, introduced his starting wing, Reece Gibb to the court to shoot a free-throw which would double the contribution of Lillard's on behalf of Dick Hannah Dealerships. With ice water in his veins, the junior stepped to the line directly in front of Damian and sank the free-throw which erupted the crowd.
When the festivities concluded, VanArnam on behalf of Dick Hannah Dealerships would present checks of $5,000 to each of the organizations in addition to $5000 to Mark Morris High School. Another example of the Dick Hannah family of dealerships "Believing in Nice." Dick Hannah primarily has dealerships in Vancouver and Portland but also has its Toyota dealership in Longview. VanArnam says the reason he chooses Cowlitz County for its charitable fundraisers with Lillard is because of the area's community support and strong basketball history. In total, over the past five years the "Threes for Threes" event has raised nearly $100,000 for the local community.