LaMarcus Aldridge might be on the road most of the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but the Portland Trail Blazer is feeling right at home as he faces the Houston Rockets. As the Texas native completely shreds the Rockets with a barrage of accurate jump shots and unstoppable rim presence, family members and friends of LaMarcus were dominating the Houston fans with cheers and roars to show support of the Trail Blazer. With a performance that can only be compared to Jordan, the 28-year-old has put the city of Portland on his back with back-to-back 43+ point games.
Joining the Trail Blazers after having his draft rights traded from the Bulls in 2006, Aldridge made an immediate impact. With a 54% shooting rating and a 6’11” body frame, LaMarcus performed well at center and made the All-Rookie first team. As the Texas Longhorn was having a fantastic rookie season, health concerns came to light as Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. During a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, LaMarcus experienced shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. He was promptly taken to Providence Hospital in Portland where the heart condition was discovered. LaMarcus missed the remainder of the season while he was undergoing treatment. Cautiously returning to the team, LaMarcus did not experience any issues with his heart.
As part of the infamous ‘R.I.P City’ Portland roster, a pastiche from the teams nickname ‘Rip City’, Aldridge and fellow teammates Brandon Roy and Greg Oden had a reputation of consistent injuries that forced many missed games for the players. While all three players were known to have extraordinary talent, the team had trouble remaining healthy for long periods of their duration. The trio did however see the playoffs and put up terrific numbers, but the victories were short lived as injuries and inconsistent rotations slowly gave way to the end of the group.
Roy retired from basketball on December of 2011 citing complications of a degenerative knee condition the reason for the decision while Oden, who has had a history of knee problems, was waived by the team a few months after. As the only one of the three to remain in Portland. Aldridge remained as adamant to win with the team. The Trail blazers organization had the same sentiment as they drafted Damien Lillard in 2012 who would end up winning Rookie of the Year honors. LaMarcus would instantly find chemistry with his teammates as career highs and game changing performances kept the Portland in championship contention.
As the only player in franchise history to score 30 points and have 25 rebounds in a single game, Aldridge dominance of the game has not been seen from Trail Blazers fans since 1977. That was the year the legendary Bill Walton lead the Portland team against a very favored Philadelphia 76ers and won the cities only NBA championship. With the help of Lillard, can it be possible for Aldridge to put the city on his back and lead the team out the west and into the Finals? A Heat/Trail Blazers match-up would echo the famous 1977 Finals, but can LaMarcus be able to rise with the team and up to the challenge? Aldridge will be more motivated than a stump-tailed bull during fly season as the Texas native looks to advance in the playoffs.
Commentary by Hector Carrion