'Undisputed' crew reacts to LaMarcus Aldridge's stunning retirement
LaMarcus Aldridge announced Thursday that he is retiring from the NBA due to a health scare.
Aldridge wrote that his condition worsened after the game, prompting him to alert the team the next morning and go to the hospital.
The 15-year NBA veteran said he's recovered now, but that it was "one of the scariest things I've experienced."
As a result, he is retiring "to put my health and family first."
Drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and traded to the Portland Trail Blazers that same night, the 6-foot-11 Aldridge spent nine seasons in the Pacific Northwest, establishing himself as a perennial All-Star in his final four seasons with the Blazers.
In July 2015, he signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs and then re-upped with the team in 2017 on a three-year, $72.3 million extension. He made three more All-Star teams in his five seasons in San Antonio before the Spurs bought out his contract this past March 25.
That move paved the way for him to join the Nets, which he did days later on March 28.
After a two-game acclimation period in Brooklyn, Aldridge established himself as the starting center for the Nets at the start of April.
In the five games he played, Aldridge averaged 26.1 minutes, 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 2.6 assists per game.
Despite his lengthy NBA résumé, Aldridge was content to be a role player on Brooklyn's loaded roster.
While the retirement announcement came as a shock to the NBA world, his heart issue wasn't something that was completely off of Aldridge's radar throughout his career.
As Yahoo's Chris Haynes told Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe and Jenny Taft of "Undisputed," he was diagnosed with irregular heartbeat syndrome during his rookie season with the Trail Blazers.
"This has been something he dealt with his whole career. His rookie season he was diagnosed with irregular heartbeat syndrome. ... It's sad and unfortunate it has to end like this."
Aldridge's decision to keep his health his foremost priority is understandable.
Nobody, including the Nets front office, would hold his abrupt decision to retire against him, considering the circumstances.
However, there are basketball implications to consider. Without his presence, the Nets are down a big piece — literally.
Bayless spoke of his admiration of Aldridge's ability to be a rim-protector.
"What I always appreciated the most about LaMarcus was he was very underrated — at 6 feet, 11 inches tall, and he's a long 6-11 — he could rim-protect. And I thought that's what he was going to help the Nets with the most, was on the defensive end, where obviously, they can be challenged."
On top of that, Aldridge was a "spacer," as Sharpe pointed out.
In other words: He was a big man who could do more than roll to the basket after setting a pick. Aldridge also possessed a lethal mid-range game.
"He can pick and pop. He doesn't have to roll to the basket. He's got a 15-foot mid-range game. He can space the floor. ... You don't worry about that with DeAndre Jordan. He's picking and rolling, looking for the lob, looking for the layup."
Not that the Nets were in desperate need of Aldridge's offense, but he did bring a different look to the table. And for a team with championship dreams, more options are always better than fewer.
In search of his first NBA ring, Aldridge's decision to retire must have been extremely difficult, as well as telling in terms of how serious his latest issue was, as Haynes pointed out.
The Nets still have plenty in place to go chase down their first NBA title, just a bit less than they did a few days ago.
And should they wind up winning the title, they'd be well within their rights to make a ring for Aldridge, even if he only played with the team for two weeks.
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