Former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge Retires
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Former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge Retires

After 15 years, LaMarcus Aldridge retires after experiencing an irregular heartbeat in a game against the Brooklyn Nets. His impact on the court has been felt throughout his career and respect should be given to the big man.

Former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge Retires

Aldridge played his last game on Apr 10 in the 101-126 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. LaMarcus Aldridge has suffered from a heart conditions throughout his career. Even in a guard dominated league, he has always found a way to be a force on the court. His career started in 2006 when he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. The rights to his pick were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers along with Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. Starting center for Portland, Joel Przybilla, suffered a season ending knee injury, which allowed Aldridge to take the starting role. He started 22 out of the 63 games he played during his rookie year. In his first month as a started he was voted as runner up for the Western Conference Rookie of the Month Award behind his teammate Brandon Roy. With the addition of Aldridge and Roy, Portland went from 21-61 in 2005-06 to 32-50 in 2006-07. At the end of the season, both Aldridge and Roy were named to the 2007 NBA All-Rookie Team. But there were issues Aldridge had throughout the season. During the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Aldridge was taken to the hospital for shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome and missed the remaining eight games of the 2006-07 season. Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is when an extra electrical pathway between your hearts upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat. This would later affect him here and there throughout his career.

For each of his first three seasons, Aldridge saw season highs in points, rebounds, and steals. He also was third in voting for the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 2008 and saw his first playoff experience in 2009 in a 2-4 loss to the Houston Rockets. Next season Aldridge signed a five-year, $65 million dollar contract with the Portland Trail Blazers and once again fell in the first round of the playoffs, but this time to the Phoenix Suns. During the 2010 season, Aldridge joined Clyde Drexler and Kevin Ransey as the only Trail Blazers in history to win the NBA Player of the Month Award. He was voted to the All-NBA Third Team and was the runner up for NBA Most Improved Player Award. Then for the third year in a row, Portland was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, this time by the Mavericks.

Aldridge's stardom was finally rewarded in the 2012 season with his first All-Star Game selection. Aldridge was averaging the 7th best points per game average in the NBA at 22.6 points. He was selected to the All-Star Game for the next five seasons. In 2013, Aldridge recorded a new career high in points per game (21.1), rebounds per game (9.1) and assists per game (2.6) along with his second All-Star selection. In the next season, Aldridge set two records for Portland. First when he recorded 31 points and his all-time career high 25 rebounds. He became the first Portland Trail Blazer to ever record at least 30 points and at least 25 rebounds in a single game. Next was when he scored his career high in Game 2 of the first round against the Houston Rockets. He recorded 46 points in Game 1 and 43 points in Game 2, which led him to join Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady as the only players in history to record 89 points in the first two games of a playoff series. Portland would eventually reach the second round for the first time since they lost the Conference Finals in 2000. Even though they would eventually lose to the future champions, the San Antonio Spurs, Aldridge had a career year. He recorded career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, free-throw percentage per game, defensive rebounds per game, and double doubles.

Then came the 2015 season where Aldridge passed Terry Porter for second on the all-time scoring list (12562) for Portland. Then just three months later, he became the all-time leading rebounder (5434) for Portland. Portland started the year off hot at 30-11 and then went 21-20 throughout the remainder of the season. They finished as the fourth seed and faced the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round where they lost the series in five games.

As a free agent prior to the 2015-16 season, Aldridge signed a four-year $80 million dollar contract with the San Antonio Spurs. A quarter way through the season, the Spurs won their 35th straight home game, good for the sixth-best streak in NBA history. Just two games later, they defeated the Pelicans at home. This set their home record at 27-0 on the season, breaking the record set by the 1977-78 Portland Trail Blazers for the best home start for a Western Conference team ever. Aldridge was selected to his fifth straight All-Star Game as the Spurs finished the season in second place, where they would eventually lose to the Thunder in the second round.

On March 11, 2017, Aldridge was ruled out for a few days due to a minor heart arrhythmia. As soon as he was healthy, he got right back on track. Later in the season, he would join LeBron James and Dwayne Wade as the only active players to score 1,000 points in 10 straight seasons. Throughout his career, Aldridge had never been past the second round. But in 2017, that all changed. After defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the Houston Rockets in the second round, the Spurs looked like a tough team to beat. But they ran into the splash brothers and Golden State Warriors, where they were swept in the Conference Finals.

During the 2017-18 season, Aldridge was back as a selection for the All-Star Game. He also reached 7,000 career rebounds, becoming the only player since he was drafted in 2006 to have 16,000 points and 7,000 rebounds. Next season, he was an All-Star again for the 7th and final time in his career. He reached 18,000 career points and helped extend the Spurs playoff berth streak to 22-years, tied for the longest streak in NBA history with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers (1950-1963/1964-1971).

In 2020-21 season, Aldridge came off the bench for the first time since he was a rookie in Portland. After the All-Star break, Aldridge and the Spurs reached a buyout on his contract and then on Mar 28, 2021, Aldridge signed with the Brooklyn Nets. He played an important role with the Nets in his time there. His last game was Apr 10, against the Los Angeles Lakers and then on Apr 15, Aldridge announced his retirement. In a post on his personal twitter, Aldridge said that he experienced the worst episode of his heart condition to date, and it scared him. He thanked the people and the sport of basketball for his 15 years in the league and said it was time for him to move on.

Aldridge's heart condition has taken his possible match up in the NBA Finals with the Nets away, but he have seen health conditions like this before end a career early. One example is Chris Bosh, who first discovered he had blood clots in his lungs during the 2014-15 season. He was cleared to play at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, but later found out he had blood clots in his legs. He was out for the remainder of the season and didn't play in the 2016-17 season. For both Aldridge and Bosh, there were more miles on those legs. But sometimes this happens and they both had careers that are widely respected.

Some things that may hang over the legacy of LaMarcus Aldridge is that fact that he was never a league MVP or an NBA champion. But that could change this year in a way. Since he was a part of the Nets roster this season, he will get a ring if they win the NBA Finals this year. People could possibly call it an illegitimate ring, but either way he has more than earned the respect in the paint.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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