Portland Trail Blazers: Why it’s time to put LaMarcus Aldridge’s No. 12 in the rafters

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images) /
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LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

Why we shouldn’t hold Aldridge’s decision to leave against him

How about another scenario? In this one, we’ve got a front row seat to a 2001 Eastern Conference playoff showcase between Vince Carter and Allen Iverson. We look up, first at the scoreboard, and see that Carter has 50 points. And then, we look into that Canada crowd, and admire how quickly the game of basketball has been immersed into culture. I turn to you, and say, “You know, if he leaves this place, we can never forgive that.

You can see, in retrospect, how silly that would be, right? Over time, we’ve seen the same mass treatment for players like Dwight Howard in Orlando, Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, so on and so forth.

Because All-NBA stars have been so rare in the city of Portland, Jul. 4th, 2015 remains one of those days where you know exactly where you were when it happened. But over time, as both sides have mended fences, I’ve started to stop wondering how Aldridge could’ve left, and thought more about why.

My hunch is that there’s some truth to Aldridge feeling less-than-appreciated in comparison to fellow backcourt stars, and communication barriers obfuscated those feelings even further. But in nine seasons in Portland, I counted one year — 2013-14 — where injuries didn’t define the season.

In many ways, Portland’s front office took the same risks as that of the “Jail Blazers” era, the only difference being that the risk. Instead of taking a chance on talented “troublemakers,” hoping skill would triumph chemistry, they took on prospects with the bodies of 30-year-olds, hoping health would prevail.

By the time he reached the NBA, Brandon Roy had two knee surgeries. One of Greg Oden’s legs was longer than the other, before he was a Blazer. During his time at Oregon Live, Jason Quick brought out something that stands the test of time:

"“Of the seven players on the Blazers’ current roster who were drafted in the first round by Portland from 2006 – 2010, five were rated as high risk from a medical standpoint, including one who was essentially given a red flag as dangerous to draft.” – Jason Quick"

If he hadn’t become part of that before (he played through back fractures pre-NBA), he was now. To have a chance to play with his favorite player and live closer to family?

I don’t agree, but I understand. And you should, too.

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When the dust settles, Aldridge is one of the five greatest to ever lace up in the black-and-red. Portland couldn’t raise a trophy during the Aldridge tenure, but only one version in 50 years could. But if appreciation means anything, what they can raise is his No. 12 jersey. And as the years roll on, hopefully this serves as one of the starting points to that.