Apr 19, 2021
The Nets and other NBA peers weigh in on LaMarcus Aldridge retirement
After announcing his retirement over health concerns, one of the all-time great power forwards is finally getting his due
The perennial 20 point-per game scorer and seven time All-Star announced his retirement at the age of 35 last week after suffering an irregular heartbeat in just his fifth game for the Brooklyn Nets.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been a peculiar NBA Basketball player. A self-described “small skinny kid” with a quirky playing style, he is as unlikely a candidate as you can imagine to dominate on the court throughout a 15-year career that endeared him to the fans of the Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, and most recently, the Brooklyn Nets.
Aldridge never stole the show with highlight-reel dunks, or killer crossovers, but he quietly became one of the greatest players of his generation, outshone by star teammates like Damian Lillard. Despite his unorthodox technique, there was nothing more predictable in the NBA than Aldridge’s silky post-fadeaway jumper down on the left block since he was drafted second overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.
That is part of why it will be so weird to see him gone.
Aldridge was first diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome his rookie season, causing him frequent rapid heartbeats. While his health seemed to stabilize and even improve over his career, Aldridge abruptly announced his retirement from the NBA on April 15 after playing just five games for the Nets since he signed at the end of March, citing concerns about an irregular heartbeat he played with during April 10 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. That apparently will be the last pro game he ever plays. Aldridge called dealing with the irregular heartbeat one of the “scariest things” he’s experienced.
“For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first,” Aldridge said in his announcement. “You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it every day. I can truly say I did just that.”
In the wake of Aldridge’s abrupt retirement, the NBA community came out in full support to celebrate his accomplishments.
San Antonio Spurs legendary Head Coach Gregg Popovich, called Aldridge “a consummate professional with a deep respect for the game.”
Former NBA fan-favorite Jamal Crawford tweeted out his gratitude for Aldridge, referring to his former teammate as “The realest I’ve ever met. We played together 1 season, and you would think we’ve known each other for decades. Your ‘star’ stature never changed you. You never looked at yourself like that, you were just ‘LA’. I always loved that about you. My brother for life. 🙏🏾”
Kevin Durant, Aldridge’s greatest teammate in his short Nets career, added that “[Aldridge’s] 15 years in the league was elite. Hall-of-Fame level. I can remember when I was visiting Texas, he was my host on my visit. Then, to finish his last game and play with him in his last game was pretty surreal.”
Perhaps most importantly, Chris Bosh, a former NBA champion who also cut his career short due to health concerns, commended Aldridge for his decision:
“”It’s a tough decision to make, let alone in the middle of the season. In fact, I can’t even say it’s the one I would’ve made. I tried to keep playing even after I found out about the medical condition that led to my own retirement. It takes some nerve to risk your life to play ball, sure—but it takes real bravery to set that aside because you have a family to look out for.”
The NBA loses one of the greatest power forwards, arguably in league history, with Aldridge’s retirement. Now come analysts like Yahoo Sports contributor Ben Rohrbach, who points out that Aldridge’s sudden retirement left him just shy of the 20,000-point threshold, putting him right on the border of nearly-guaranteed Hall of Fame entry.
The Nets will no doubt miss Aldridge, but with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving set to finally be healthy together come playoff time, the championship remains in reach.
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