An open letter to LaMarcus Aldridge from RCP
Dear LaMarcus Aldridge,
This past 4th of July, you made the announcement that you would pack your things and leave Portland for the San Antonio Spurs. It almost seemed poetic that on the anniversary of our country’s independence, you declared to leave the place that had made you who you are today. This decision puzzled nearly every single Trail Blazers fan. After years of mixed messages and seemingly hidden signals, the undeniable inevitability of your departure had come to fruition. It felt wrong though. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. Despite the rumors, gossip, and constant swirlings, us fans stayed confident in your love for Portland. Then, the fireworks went off and you shocked us all.
When I was younger, my room was filled wall to wall with memorabilia of what I consider to be the glory days of Blazers basketball. Autographs from Joel Przybilla, bobble heads of Channing Frye, and news clippings of Martell Webster‘s hot streak highlighted my hodgepodge collection. While many of these players were sent elsewhere or decided to sign with another team, two players remained constant: Brandon Roy, and yourself. When Greg Oden joined the team, the three of you starred in one of the most exciting and promising off seasons in recent memory. Then, Trail Blazers history caught up to us.
I don’t have to tell you what happened next, as soon after the big three was built up, it was torn down by devastating injuries. Before we could say “championship,” you were the only one left standing. This began a year of undivided attention in which the city fell in love with you more than we already had. We formed a bond: a mutual respect that signaled “we’re here for each other.” We had finally found a player that we could depend on. You were quickly becoming the Clyde Drexler of my generation. The Lakers had Kobe, the Mavericks had Dirk, and we had LaMarcus. Even through the turbulent year of Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, one thing remained constant: you.
When Damian Lillard entered the picture, things seemed to be going along swimmingly. Sellouts, national media coverage, and playoff games signaled that we were entering into a new era of Blazers Basketball. Being led by the L-Train out of Texas. There was a sense of rejuvenation in the city largely due to our confidence in you. You had to see that…you had to see that, right? We tried to make it clear that you were the man. Sure, Lillard was the more flashy and vocal player, but you were on track to becoming the best player in Trail Blazers history. Up to the mid-point of last season I still thought you wanted that. After you announced your decision to play through the thumb injury I was convinced you would be in Portland for life.
Then, the playoffs came, and your demeanor changed. Poor shooting performances and a lessening presence of leadership led up to the mecca of speculation: your decision to fly separately after a crushing loss in Memphis. I’m not going to take time to wonder why you left your teammates, but it certainly was a peculiar choice. It was a choice that may have altered the course of the franchise, which, strangely, I am thankful for.
You left for a safe, close-to-home situation and for that I can’t blame you. What I can blame you for is the emergence of Lillard and the discovery of the blossoming CJ McCollum. Your decision, whether you like it or not, blessed the Trail Blazers more than anyone could have imagined. So, as you lineup against your former teammates tonight, get ready to hand out more than a few “You’re welcomes”.
– An eternal Trail Blazers fan