On Thursday, LaMarcus Aldridge announced that he was retiring from basketball due to an irregular heartbeat he dealt with after his last game with the Nets. It is an unfortunate and sudden end to a terrific career, as Aldridge was a 7-time All-Star over his 15-year career with the Trail Blazers and Spurs, and while he was set to be a contributor on a potential title favorite this season, the biggest concern was his long-term health and hopefully Aldridge will be able to take care of that.
A number of players past and present celebrated Aldridge’s career after his retirement announcement, looking back on a tremendous tenure in the league that has gone, if anything, underappreciated. His time in Portland was particularly great, but ended on a sour note as he left for San Antonio in free agency when many felt he would return to the Blazers. Still, hurt feelings have softened over time and in recent years there have been some hopeful he would make a return to Portland for the end of his career.
Damian Lillard started his career as Aldridge’s teammate, and spoke with the media on Thursday about how Aldridge is one of the all-time Blazer greats and how he believes his No. 12 should hang in the rafters at the Moda Center, via NBC Sports Northwest.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 15, 2021
“I think everybody was expecting him to return and he ended up leaving and it was kind of like, people felt some kind of what about it,” Lillard added. “But there’s no denying what type of career he had in Portland and what he meant to this city, I think that’s the proper respect, is to retire his jersey because of who he was and what he did for this organization.”
Aldridge was a dominant force offensively at his peak, averaging north of 21 points and eight rebounds for five straight years to end his time in Portland, and was a big factor in bringing the Blazers from one era — the hopeful Oden-Roy era that had so much promise and ended so quickly due to injuries — to the Lillard-McCollum era. That he left as the Blazers seemed back on the rise led to some in Portland being upset but what he did for the franchise, as Lillard notes, was massive and we’ll see if the organization agrees with their star that they should honor Aldridge with a jersey retirement ceremony.