As part of the ongoing festivities surrounding the NBA All-Star Game, Grantland is doing a series of sit-down interviews with selected participants in the various events that make up All-Star Weekend. Grantland’s NBA guru Zach Lowe hosts a few of these interviews, which are pretty open and extemporaneous, and fit nicely into Grantland’s overall aesthetic of being hip, relaxed, and uber-intelligent.
LaMarcus Aldridge participated in the first round of interviews, and over the course of 15 minutes (give or take) showed what a lot of Blazer fans already know: LA is a very intelligent and thoughtful young dude who sometimes doesn’t like to talk about basketball.
In his interview, LaMarcus is at his best when talking about everything that isn’t basketball. Those things include Voodoo Donuts, where everybody sits on the team plane, how he doesn’t really buy special clothes for going out, and Sasha Pavlovic’s obsession with Dexter. It’s not that his basketball knowledge isn’t vast, it very much is, he just talks about basketball like a guy who spends all of his time playing it while trying very hard not to make it the only thing that defines his life.
But this is a basketball interview with a basketball player leading up to a basketball game, so basketball was the primary topic. LaMarcus answered questions about Damian Lillard (he’s impressed by Dame’s ability to score on anybody and thinks in the second half he needs to improve on dealing with double teams), talked about last season (he was shocked how quickly his team fell apart after the dubious “LaMarcus Aldridge Rule” goal-tending call against Oklahoma City), and admitted to being tired against the Hornets in Portland’s forgettable game in NOLA to close out their recent “make-it or break-it” road trip.
My first season writing about the Blazers for Rip City Project, I wrote about who would emerge as Portland’s franchise player if (and then when) Brandon Roy left town. In this piece, I broke down the various elements that go into being a franchise player, and which guys currently on the Blazers’ roster (and guys who might possibly be on some future Blazer roster) best meet the criteria.
My four criteria were Playing (how a guy handled his business on the court), Representing (how a guy handled his business off the court), Fandom (how much people like a guy), and Media (how the guys who write about a guy for a living like/interact with a guy). My choices for future franchise player were LaMarcus, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez, or some unknown entity acquired through trade or free agency or brought in through the draft.
Andre and Rudy are gone. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews have been great in all four categories. Damian Lillard is that unknown option. But it is LaMarcus Aldridge who has emerged as Portland’s unquestioned franchise player.
The goal going forward for the Blazers has to be keeping LA in the mix. For what it’s worth, 45% of RCP readers picked LaMarcus as their next franchise player too.
The key for LaMarcus going forward, is figuring out how to go 15 minutes in front of a camera without saying “ya know.”
Here’s the interview. Come for the verbal plane diagram, stay for the Casey Holdahl shout out.