LaMarcus Aldridge‘s retirement arrived earlier than anyone expected on Thursday, as the Brooklyn Nets big man announced an irregular heartbeat would prevent him from playing again.
The development ends a 15-year career for the seven-time All-Star, who spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. It’s also a significant blow for the Nets, who signed Aldridge from the buyout market last month to bolster their frontcourt. In five games with Brooklyn, Aldridge averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 blocks in 26.0 minutes per game.
Without Aldridge, the Nets have some decisions to make with their frontcourt. However, they’re not the only team facing a decision because of the big man’s abrupt retirement.
Damian Lillard: Retiring LaMarcus Aldridge’s number would be ‘proper respect’
Soon after Aldridge revealed he was retiring, Blazers star Damian Lillard appeared on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby to discuss his former teammate.
After supporting Aldridge’s decision to retire, Lillard made a direct call for the Blazers to retire his jersey number:
“It’s time, man. It’s time for the Blazers to retire No. 12, man,” Lillard said. “He had an amazing career in a Trail Blazers uniform. I think everyone was expecting him to return, and he ended up leaving and people felt some type of way about it, but there’s denying the kind of career he had in Portland and what he meant to this city.
“So I think that’s the proper respect to retire that jersey, because of who he was and what he did for this organization.”
That thing “people felt some type of way about” would be Aldridge’s exit from Portland in 2015. At that point, Aldridge was ranked behind only Clyde Drexler on the team’s all-time scoring list (Lillard has since overtaken him) and the star of a team that won 51 games the previous year. He opted to join the San Antonio Spurs in free agency rather than return to the Blazers, which was an unpopular decision to say the least.
As awkward as that exit and subsequent years were, Lillard is probably correct in that Aldridge did enough for the Blazers to retire his jersey. The team already has 11 numbers retired in its history; space can be made for the franchise’s all-time leading rebounder.
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