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Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers is no stranger to music, and he is no stranger to social issues affecting our country.

The NBA All-Star guard, also known as Dame D.O.L.L.A. (Different On Levels the Lord Allows), is as serious about expressing himself as an artist as he is about excelling on the basketball court.

That is what prompted him to write "Bigger Than Us," a song that perpetuates an important message of hope. Lillard explained the theme of the song and video in an MLK Day special on the NBA A to Z podcast:

Everything that happens goes both ways. We will never know every single fact. That's the main reason I just look at being positive, everyone standing as one. ... When you stand together, a lot more can always be accomplished.

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Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images

In his 20 NBA seasons, Kobe Bryant has faced a number of brilliant players: vets near the end of their careers, such as Karl Malone and John Stockton; fellow stars who entered the league around his time, such as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett; newer standouts such as Dwyane Wade and Stephen Curry.

None of those made his top five "toughest players to face" list. As relayed by our own Baxter Holmes, here it is:

Michael Jordan? No surprise. LeBron James? Not really either. Kevin Durant? When he's healthy, he's electric. And Hakeem Olajuwon? There's a reason they call him The Dream. The biggest surprise, perhaps, is Clyde Drexler -- but no one is about to claim he wasn't great.

The key point is the second thing Bryant told Holmes: It is hard to choose a top five from 1996 to 2015.

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It's been an eventful 24 hours for Chris Paul.

In Tuesday's loss, the Los Angeles Clippers guard got victimized by a sick Stephen Curry move, to which even CP3 tipped his figurative cap.

During Wednesday's win, Paul got into the following scuffle with Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Kaman, which started with a hit by Paul below the belt. Accidental? You be the judge.

video

Kaman drew a flagrant foul for shoving Paul, which itself drew the attention of Glen "Big Baby" Davis. This led to a slight tangle-up with LaMarcus Aldridge, during which Davis, shall we say, embellished things just a bit.

After the game, Paul addressed the scuffle -- but didn't exactly think a whole lot of it:

This is going to be some Western Conference playoffs.

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Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

NBA Pick 'Em -- Spurs vs. Blazers

The San Antonio Spurs feature legends. The Portland Trail Blazers sport a pair of in-their-prime stars. Which team has the advantage in the key position groups? Which will win their Western Conference semifinals series?

More: Pacers-Wizards | Heat-Nets | Thunder-Clippers

  • Which team has the advantage in the frontcourt?

    •  
      54%
    •  
      46%

    Discuss (Total votes: 8,804)

  • Which team has the advantage in the backcourt?

    •  
      51%
    •  
      49%

    Discuss (Total votes: 8,753)

  • Which team has the advantage off the bench?

    •  
      80%
    •  
      20%

    Discuss (Total votes: 8,516)

  • Which team will win the Western Conference semifinal series between the Spurs and Trail Blazers? (Spurs lead 1-0)

    •  
      79%
    •  
      21%

    Discuss (Total votes: 6,909)

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Three of the top four seeds in the NBA playoffs were taken to seven games. All of them survived. Does that change how you rate them as the second round gets underway? Click on the logos below to rank the last eight remaining teams!

More: Your second round predictions?

Final 8 NBA Playoff Teams

Clippers

Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers
No. 3 in West

Heat

Heat

Miami Heat
No. 2 in East

Nets

Nets

Brooklyn Nets
No. 6 in East

Pacers

Pacers

Indiana Pacers
No. 1 in East

Spurs

Spurs

San Antonio Spurs
No. 1 in West

Thunder

Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder
No. 2 in West

Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers
No. 5 in West

Wizards

Wizards

Washington Wizards
No. 5 in East

Your Rankings

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