OGDEN -- The key to the city Damian Lillard officially accepted from Ogden city on Saturday doesn't appear to open any actual doors.
Being the NBA rookie of the year, however, has opened plenty of doors for the former Weber State star who returned to his college town to make his first appearance in the second version of "Damian Day."
A year ago, Lillard missed the party Ogden and WSU held in his honor on the day of the 2012 NBA Draft due to a prior engagement -- he was busy being selected sixth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Then, he was mostly unknown outside the Big Sky Conference; now, he's been featured in Adidas commercials, had a shoe made in honor of his rookie season and was recently awarded the NBA social media rookie of the year award. In a skit on NBA TV, Lillard is seen sincerely addressing the camera to say, "In accepting this award, I want to assure all of my fans that I'm the same humble kid from Weber State that I was last summer," before comedic "behind the scenes" footage is shown of him humorously complaining about room-temperature bottled water, big-timing workers on the set of the show and then storming off by saying, "Would you guys hurry up with this? I've got a mani-pedi with Chuck (Charles Barkley) at 4 and I'm not going to miss it, so ... whatever, see ya."
After being presented with the key to the city by Odgen Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson at The Junction on Saturday, Lillard stayed to sign autographs and take pictures with young fans, many of whom wore Portland and WSU jerseys.
Weber State University President Chuck Wight and men's basketball coach Randy Rahe also participated in the short ceremony in front of several hundred fans at The Junction that was also broadcast live online in a Google+ Hangout.
"It's unfortunate I couldn't be here for the first (Damian Day) but I was getting drafted," Lillard said afterward. "It's nice to know that I've got this type of support here even after I'm done at Weber State, that I've still got that same relationship with the community. It's a great feeling."
Lillard's transition to the NBA may have come even more quickly than his transition to the college game. He came off the bench and scored a mere five points in his first game at Weber State; in his pro debut with the Blazers, he totalled 23 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
"Before coming in to college, I worked hard, but I didn't understand the amount of work I needed to put in to make it smoother," he said. "Once I got done with college and decided to go into the NBA, I really knew how to push myself. I had an idea what I needed to get better at and I knew what I wanted for myself.
"I think just because of knowing those few things, I was able to make that transition a lot more smooth."
By the end of the 2012-13 season, he was just the fourth rookie in league history to be a unanimous choice for the rookie of the year award and the third to total 1,500 points and 500 assists.
Rahe said it didn't take Lillard long to make an impact at Weber State.
"When Damian first got here as a freshman, I think the first month or so is always an adjustment, figuring out how hard you've got to play and what you've got to do to figure out our culture," Rahe said. "But after that first month, I'm not sure if Damian had a bad day in practice. The beauty of it is, when a guy turns out to be your best player and is one of your hardest workers if not the hardest worker, has the type of character that Damian has and buys into our system the way Damian did and our culture, then it's a blessing for your program. "
During this season in Portland, Lillard was involved in an anti-bullying campaign, "RESPECT, Pass It On," and a banner bearing its logo was made available to be signed Saturday at The Junction to make a no-bullying pledge. Attendees also received an autographed picture of Lillard in a Trail Blazers jersey.
As for the key to the city, "it's kind of a nice thing, we've gone and re-keyed all of the homes (in Ogden) so this key would work," Johnson joked when presenting it to Lillard. "Actually, this only works at (Weber State University President Chuck Wight's) house and he's promised to keep the fridge full.
"The key to the city is actually a very symbolic thing that is given to someone who's done a lot for the community, is a good representative of the community, and Damian, we think that you've done a great job representing Weber State University and Ogden city."