By Sophia Plug, OREGON SPORTS NEWS
LaMarcus Aldridge announced on Twitter last Friday afternoon that after 16 years in the NBA and seven All-Star selections, he’s retiring for the second time. The former star forward, who spent the bulk of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, expressed his gratitude.
“In the words of TB12, you only get one big, emotional retirement…so, on that note…I’m thankful for all the memories, family, and friends I made throughout my career. It was one hell of a ride, and I enjoyed every [minute]!”
Aldridge averaged 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his career. Aldridge came out of his first retirement and signed a one-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets for the 2021-22 season. He played for the San Antonio Spurs five years before that, but the nine years he spent with the Portland Trail Blazers are what people will remember him for.
Now that LA has retired, the obvious question is whether or not the Trail Blazers should retire Aldridge’s number 12.
Even though many fans love Aldridge for what he did for the Portland Trail Blazers, many are still upset that he bailed on the organization when he left.
No matter how you feel about LA now that he is no longer with the Trail Blazers, there is no doubt that he was one of the all-time best players ever to play for Portland. But is it a good thing that his jersey is being retired? Rasheed Wallace once famously said, “Ball don’t lie,” In this case, the numbers don’t lie.
LaMarcus Aldridge ranks among Trail Blazers career leaders:
- Number one in total rebound (5,434)
- Number one in defensive rebounds (3,389)
- Number two in making two-point field goals (5.060)
- Number three for most points scored (12,562)
- Number three in offensive rebounds (1,736)
- Number three in field goal made (5,121)
- Number four in blocks (658)
- Number four in making free throws (2,259)
- Number four in terms of time played (22,972)
- Number five in the number of games played (648)
- The fifth-best Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) in the history of the team (20.5)
- The team’s sixth-best Player Efficiency Rating (PER) (20.3)
- His 46 points against Houston in 2014 are the second-most points ever scored by a Blazers player in a playoff game.
- And he is one of only six Blazers to ever grab 25 or more rebounds in a single game.
Stats show that Aldridge is one of the best Portland Trail Blazers ever to play. Just for that, his number should be up in the rafters next to the likes of Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler, and Bill Walton.
If those numbers don’t convince you, look at his on-court success. Before the Blazers drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, they had missed the playoffs for three years in a row. They were still living with the “Jail Blazers” label, which was maybe not fair. Two years after being drafted, Aldridge and fellow star Brandon Roy got the Blazers back into the playoffs. They would go on to win 50 games in back-to-back seasons, ending the Jail Blazers era.
Aldridge and Roy brought in a new time for the Blazers, but it didn’t last long. Roy had to leave the Blazers because of his health in 2011, and they would have to chart a new course. Portland was lucky to get Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard in 2012 to take the place of Roy’s star power.
The Blazers were now in a new era of basketball, and LaMarcus Aldridge was still a big part of that. In 2013-14, the Blazers would win 54 games, which would tie for their fifth-best season ever. They went on to beat the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. In Game 1 of that series, Aldridge scored 46 points, a Blazers record at the time. This was the first time in 14 years that the Blazers had made it to the second round.
In his nine years in Portland, Aldridge set a lot of records. Even though his time there ended on a sour note, there is no doubt that the team was in a better place when he left than when he arrived. Aldridge joined a team that was having its worst run of seasons since it joined the league in the early 1970s and helped them get back on track.
He got the Blazers back into the playoffs in his last two seasons. Even though he left the team in the summer of 2015, the groundwork he helped lay and left for Lillard to take over has helped the Blazers make the playoffs for seven straight years. At the moment, this is the second-longest postseason streak in the NBA.
Even though Aldridge has been gone for a long time, his mark remains. The fact that we are even talking about retiring his jersey shows his importance.
We’ve debated whether Brandon Roy’s No. 7 should hang in the rafters for years. And while that argument is neither here nor there, it’s worth noting that even though No. 7 isn’t retired, no Trail Blazer has worn it since Roy retired. Even Carmelo Anthony, who will be in the Hall of Fame, couldn’t get the No. 7 spot. In the same way, since LA left town, no player has worn the number 12. There is already a respect factor with the number. Why not make it official?
Even though he left bitterly, that’s fine. But even if you threw away your Aldridge jersey the day he left, you can’t honestly say he wasn’t an all-time great after nine years of service.
The numbers show it. On-court success is proof of that. What his friends and former teammates say about him proves it.
The L-Train has reached its last stop, and it’s time to put the No. 12 up high on the court, where it belongs, next to the greats.