Earlier this year it was announced that LaMarcus Aldridge would like to be part of the United States team in the 2014 FIBA tournament. That’s excellent to hear, especially because he was unable to participate in 2010 due to personal reasons, but lost in all this is the significance for the Portland Trail Blazers.
If Aldridge competes (and is still a Blazer) he will be the first Trail Blazer in NBA history to represent the United States in the FIBA tournament. The FIBA tournament dates all the way back to 1950, but did not include professional players until 1994.
Since the FIBA tournament occurs every four years, alternating on a two-year offset with the Summer Olympics, there have been five tournaments involving NBA players—none of which featured a single Portland Trail Blazer.
Sure there have been a few players involved that had been, or had yet to be, Blazers (Steve Smith, Shawn Kemp, Jermaine O’Neal, Raef Lafrentz), but Portland has never been officially represented. LaMarcus Aldridge stands to make history if his desire for inclusion is fulfilled.
When Aldridge declined his invitation in 2010, it was speculated that his chances of making the 2012 Olympic Team were marred. Whether or not that was true became irrelevant when Aldridge underwent hip surgery. He was left off of the 2012 USAB roster that included forwards Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and swingman Andre Iguodala.
I would argue that LaMarcus Aldridge is a better player now than he was in 2010. So if he can remain healthy and handle the competition, I see it as a very real possibility that he becomes the first Portland Trail Blazer to represent the United States in the tournament.