Blazers’ Aldridge becomes team’s 15th All-Star

After what many thought was a snub last year, LaMarcus Aldridge

is finally an All-Star.

The Trail Blazers’ forward earned his spot on the Western

Conference team in voting by the conference’s coaches. The All-Star

starters were selected by in fans voting.

”This has been one of my main goals for a while,” Aldridge

said Thursday night after getting the news. ”So, to actually

achieve this one, it means a lot.”

Aldridge, who is in his sixth season, is averaging 23.3 points

and 8.5 rebounds. He’s one of just three players shooting better

than 50 percent from the floor (245 for 481, 50.9 percent).

”LaMarcus is a premier player in this league and I’m very happy

to see him be recognized for his efforts as a player and a

leader,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said in a statement released

by the team. ”He improves every season and this is validation for

all the hard work he’s put in to become an All-Star.”

During a conference call with reporters, Aldridge said he bought

a plane ticket home to Texas for All-Star weekend just in case he

didn’t make the team.

”I’m going to have to see if I can get that money back,” he

joked.

Aldridge has scored in double figures in all 26 games this

season for the Blazers (14-12). He has six double-doubles, and had

33 points and 23 rebounds in a Jan. 20 game against Toronto.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Aldridge

said felt he played well enough last season to be an All-Star, but

was disappointed when he did not make the team. In fact, he thought

he was playing better than he has this season.

”I might have better numbers this season, but I feel like last

year down the stretch I was playing really well,” he said. ”I

want to be dominant. I want to close games. I want to be one of the

best power forwards in this league, and I think I’m getting

there.”

Aldridge was in New Orleans with the Trail Blazers on Thursday

for a game against the Hornets on Friday night.

Aldridge, who played at Texas, was the second overall pick in

the 2006 draft by the Chicago Bulls and was traded to the Blazers

on draft day.

He emerged last season, when three-time Blazers All-Star Brandon

Roy was hobbled by knee problems, taking over a leadership role

both on the court and in the locker room. He finished the season

with a career-high 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while

shooting exactly 50 percent from the field.

He is the 15th All-Star in franchise history. Roy, who retired

before the start of the season because of his knees, was the last

Trail Blazer to make the team when he was selected for the third

time in 2010.

The All-Star game is Feb. 26 in Orlando.