How An Ex-Teammate’s Refusal To Leave His Plane Convinced LaMarcus Aldridge To Sign With The Spurs

The LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes were undoubtedly the main-event of the free agency free-for-all this summer, but it’s slowly coming to light that there was a lot more drama behind the scenes than we first imagined. Most people agree that San Antonio was his most likely destination, but, at one point, there were whispers that he was leaning toward signing with the Phoenix Suns. Apparently, that particular outcome was quite a bit closer to fruition than we realized.

Even more surprising is who (literally) flew in and saved the day for the Spurs. Ime Udoka, a current Spurs’ assistant and a former teammate to Aldridge during his early days in Portland, was absolutely instrumental in quelling the big man’s misgivings about joining San Antonio. To hear Aldridge tell it, Udoka went to great lengths (again, literally) by spontaneously hopping aboard a flight with Aldridge following their meeting in Los Angeles. Via Sam Amick of USA Today Sports:

“It (the meeting process) was done. I was down to two teams, Phoenix and the Spurs. I thought (Udoka) was staying in San Antonio for the summer, so I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a jet going to Dallas. You could get a flight from Dallas to San Antonio (to head home).’ So he was like, ‘Cool.’ So he gets on the jet, and I’m like, ‘We’re leaving. You should buy your flight (to San Antonio from Dallas) on the plane. Go buy your flight.’ He was like, ‘I ain’t buying no flight.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘I live here (in Los Angeles) right now. I’m flying just to answer any questions that you have.’ I was like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Get off the plane.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to answer any question that you have.’ So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Don’t do this.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’

Aldridge went on to tell Amick that he initially had plenty of concerns about how he’d fit into the Spurs’ system, specifically pertaining to how his relatively high usage rates and overall production might not necessarily jibe with San Antonio’s spread-the-wealth offensive schemes. And that’s where Udoka the pitchman came in and reassured him that they weren’t looking to redefine his game.

We’ll never know exactly how close the Spurs were to losing Aldridge to the Suns, but we do know Udoka deserves a raise or a big promotion or something.

(via USA Today Sports)