Lillard's and Aldridge's reletionship. (He will come back Portland one day)

Discussion in 'Portland Trail Blazers' started by Labinot41, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Labinot41

    Labinot41 Well-Known Member

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    https://theathletic.com/864563/2019...zers-milestone/#click=https://t.co/0QRgSkup4o

    Mending fences: Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge find a connection on the precipice of Blazers milestone.

    LOS ANGELES — The latest milestone for Damian Lillard will be among the more meaningful for the Trail Blazers star.

    As early as Tuesday against the Clippers, Lillard can pass LaMarcus Aldridge as the No. 2 scorer in Trail Blazers history. And while Lillard says his eyes are firmly on surpassing Clyde Drexler as the franchise’s top scorer, he says eclipsing Aldridge will be special, in large part because of where their relationship has been, and where it is now.

    For three years they were teammates, during which there was an unspoken tension. Lillard said he was wary of stepping on Aldridge’s star status; Aldridge said he didn’t want to stifle the youngster’s growth. So, they kept to themselves.

    And after Aldridge left in 2015 in free agency to San Antonio, their interactions were marked with awkward handshakes and uneasiness of how each felt about the other.

    “I didn’t know what he was thinking,” Lillard said. “But I knew in my heart that I didn’t have hard feelings towards him. And as it turns out, he didn’t have any towards me, but he thought I did towards him … so it was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”

    Jamal Crawford thought the same thing. As a close friend of Aldridge, and knowing Lillard through sharing the same agent, Crawford felt there was an unwarranted disconnect.

    So on the same Staples Center court where Lillard tonight will try to pass Aldridge, Crawford initiated what became the repairing of what turned out to be more than just a relationship.

    It helped Aldridge find peace. It helped Lillard grow. And in the end, Aldridge and Lillard say it just might help the two reunite in Rip City.

    Nobody knows how, or when, it started. But somewhere during the three years Lillard and Aldridge were together in Portland, both players feel like seeds were planted by outside forces to create tension.

    “First of all, there was never an issue,” Lillard said. “He’s pretty quiet, and I was young. The fact that he was a quiet person and to himself, and I was young and didn’t want to overstep, there was never really a conversation. Because of that, there was room for people around him to say ‘Aw, Dame is’ … you know, to say whatever they want to say to get him to think what they wanted him to think.”

    Said Aldridge: “He and I let people get in our heads. We let outside people drive a wedge between us.”

    It lingered after Aldridge left the Blazers in free agency. Lillard remembers warming up the first time the Blazers played against Aldridge and the Spurs.

    “I would be walking on the court and he would kind of look, and I would be looking and thinking ‘Will he shake my hand if I put my hand out?'” Lillard said. “Then at the last second, we would be like (he mimics a clumsy slapping of hands). It was like … weird. And that’s when I really started thinking about it — how me and this dude never had an argument, a disagreement … like, I don’t even know what this is about.”

    Crawford, who is close with Aldridge and holds Lillard in high regard, could sense that something was amiss.

    "I felt like I was the person who could relate to both,” Crawford said. “It was two guys who are both real dudes, who really like each other, but they weren’t necessarily talking, for whatever reason. It was crazy to me. It would be different if one person was fake, or the other was all Hollywood. But I was like, you are all the same. Let’s make this work.”

    So in December 2016, before a Blazers-Clippers game at the Staples Center, Crawford — then of the Clippers — asked Lillard if he had spoken to Aldridge.

    “Nah. We don’t really talk,” Lillard remembers telling Crawford.

    Crawford remembers encouraging Lillard to contact Aldridge. Lillard says Crawford told him to “squash” the feud.

    “And I was like, ‘Squash what? I don’t know what you are talking about,'” Lillard said. “And he was like, ‘Man, you all need to talk. You all need to let it go.'”

    Shortly after, Aldridge said, Crawford texted him.

    “Fix this shit,” Aldridge remembers Crawford writing.

    Nobody can remember who reached out first, but both sides said it started slowly.

    What’s up? (Send.)
    What’s up? (Send.)

    But soon, the texts became longer, and eventually it became evident both were earnest about addressing the wedge.

    “Both sides put in the effort,” Aldridge said. “That’s why it worked.”

    Comforted they were making headway, Aldridge dialed Lillard. What followed was a 35-minute conversation that changed their relationship, and perhaps the future of the Blazers.

    For how closed their relationship was, this wasn’t the first time Aldridge and Lillard had spoken on the phone.

    In the days before Aldridge announced his decision to leave Portland for San Antonio, Lillard called to make one last pitch for Aldridge to stay.

    That short phone conversation was one of the ice-breaking points of Aldridge’s call to Lillard.

    “He was like, ‘I remember in free agency you called and asked me if we could just talk, and whether I wanted to stay,'” Lillard remembers. “I could tell at the time that what I was saying was kind of falling on deaf ears … and he was like, ‘I was just over it at that point.'”

    Then they got to why there was something to even get over. How did they get to this point?

    Aldridge said he started by acknowledging he was cold to Lillard’s arrival.

    “Being a vet, I didn’t handle him coming in well,” Aldridge said. “I didn’t want to make him think I was stifling his growth, or have a mindset that I was hating on him, so I didn’t say anything to him. That was the wrong approach, because he told me he would have liked guidance and a big brother.”

    Lillard then explained to Aldridge that, out of deference, he didn’t ever say anything to the older player.

    “I wanted him to know that I’m not trying to be The Guy,” Lillard said. “Put it like this: I never want people to think I’m not genuine. So if I go to him and say, ‘Man, I’m not trying to be this, you are The Guy, you the leader, I’m not trying to step on your toes’ … then at the end of the game, I’m walking in the huddle saying, ‘Give me the ball.’

    “I didn’t know how to explain to him and say, ‘This is not me saying I’m better than you, or this is my team’ … this is me being as complementary to you as possible. So, how do I have that type of mindset and attitude and also be in his face saying, ‘I’m not trying to be The Guy …’? Would he truly understand it? It was tough for me. So that’s why I didn’t say nothing.”

    The air began to clear. They found there was a deep respect for each other. They learned they both enjoyed playing together. And they realized that a lack of communication led to a giant misunderstanding.

    “It was a good conversation. I feel like he said his truth, I said mine, and by the end of the conversation I was ready to just be like, ‘Well, shit, you want to come back? Like, what’s up?'” Lillard said. “That’s where my head was at. ‘Shiiiit. You ready to come back? Why not, bro?'”

    If that conversation had happened before Aldridge’s free agency?

    "You never know,” Aldridge said. “But of course, if we had a better relationship, it changes the whole outlook of how it went. It’s sad that not talking like we do now could have changed history. But everything happens for a reason. He has flourished in that role, and I keep telling him I’m going to come back and finish there. That’s something him and I have talked about — playing together again.”

    In February, at All-Star weekend in Charlotte, Lillard said he noticed a notable connection. It wasn’t LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It wasn’t Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

    It was Aldridge and Lillard.

    “We were more connected than anybody else at All-Star weekend,” Lillard said. “Over the course of that weekend, we interacted on a genuine level. It was cool for us.”

    It was there in Charlotte, amid a rekindling of friendship, where talk of reuniting resurfaced.

    “Once we aired it out and realized it we never had an issue, it made it easy for us to reconnect,” Aldridge said. “It felt effortless to be around each other, so we were talking in locker room, joking about us in the pick-and-roll, and doing it again one day.”

    At one point, Aldridge was asked if he could exchange jerseys with another player, who would it be? Lillard, he answered.

    Lillard said he noticed in Charlotte that Aldridge was more at ease than he had ever seen him. There was a sense of freedom and peace within the 33-year-old.

    “I think he is a lot happier. He was smiling a lot when I was around him, and he just had this different energy about him. You can tell. He’s in a different space right now. Hopefully one day he will come back and finish his career here. I think that would be a great ending for him.”

    Aldridge agreed that he is happier, and he said Lillard is one of the main reasons.

    “Fixing things with Dame helped, because there was this cloud of thinking this, and thinking that,” Aldridge said. “To fix that and to know that I can go back and he will welcome me and it is his team … that makes it better. I’ve just had a lot of time to grow and mature, and I’ve made my way here (in San Antonio) of being the guy kind of like I was in Portland, and it’s been a process … but I’ve just comfortable with who I am and what I’ve become.”

    What he is not comfortable with, Aldridge jokes, is Lillard passing him on the scoring list, perhaps as quickly as Tuesday. Lillard needs 23 points to pass Aldridge.

    “I said this was coming,” Aldridge said. “I remember when I got to No. 2, I said this guy next to me (Lillard) is going to pass me. Now, I’m not saying I’m happy about it, because I’m a competitor, but I’m definitely happy because of the person he is. He’s been a great ambassador for that city, which loves its basketball. It really couldn’t happen to a better person.”

    For Lillard, there is one more player to catch — Drexler, whose 18,040 points could be topped in about two and a half seasons. But for the moment, he can’t help but reflect on the man he is about to pass and what could have been had he and Aldridge spoken more openly and sooner.

    “If we would have talked about it, we would have still been playing together,” Lillard said. “There was a whole lot of that in our conversation. It was like … all of this could have been prevented.”
     
  2. Labinot41

    Labinot41 Well-Known Member

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  3. hoopsjock

    hoopsjock Well-Known Member

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    Fuck Aldridge!
     
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  4. Labinot41

    Labinot41 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, he will come back

     
  5. HailBlazers

    HailBlazers Ride the REmerge

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    I know @dviss1 want's him back
     
  6. B-Roy

    B-Roy Blazer Fan

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    Both Aldridge and Lillard's contract expires at the same time in 2021.....

    LA will be 36 at that point, but he could definitely come back in a reduced role. Who knows, Dame may even take less to let LA come back....
     
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  7. barfo

    barfo commie pinko... now with added syphilis! Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Wish Lillard had made up with a better, younger player instead.

    barfo
     
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  8. DDolla

    DDolla Well-Known Member

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    Old LMA comes back to PDX? No Thanks
     
  9. Labinot41

    Labinot41 Well-Known Member

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    His game is not build on athleticsism, even at 35 years or more he can be a very good player
     
  10. B-Roy

    B-Roy Blazer Fan

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    I know people are bitter still, but if you put Aldridge on this current team, you probably have a championship contender. Dame, CJ, LMA, Nurk.

    Additionally, having Aldridge probably means we wouldn't have had the unfortunate situation of signing Turner, Crabbe, Leonard and Harkless to those awful deals....
     
  11. TorturedBlazerFan

    TorturedBlazerFan Well-Known Member

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    I dont really have any hate for LMA, he played out his contract and left.

    If he was on the Blazers current team, they’d be a pretty dangerous team.
     
  12. wizenheimer

    wizenheimer Well-Known Member

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    it probably also means they wouldn't have Nurkic. If Aldridge would have re-signed, the Blazers may have also re-signed Lopez.

    It might even mean that Olshey would have practiced some fiscal restraint on CJ's contract and let him become RFA
     
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  13. cityofroses

    cityofroses Member

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    Meh it’s too late now. What’s the point to have an old LMA.

    Never understood why he left anyways. Players practically beg their teams to trade for help or draft great picks and LMA had a gifted superstar come to him. You leave the extra 40M or whatever it was AND a star point guard? Just dumb as fuck
     
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  14. B-Roy

    B-Roy Blazer Fan

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    There are plenty of examples of players, particularly power forwards that don't rely on their athleticism (like LMA) playing well into their late 30s.

    Here are a list of power forwards that literally had All-Star seasons at age 36 or greater:

    Dirk Nowitzki
    Kevin Garnett
    Karl Malone
    Kareem Abdul-Jabar
    Tim Duncan

    And no, he probably won't be an all-star level player, but he can definitely still be a productive one.
     
  15. cityofroses

    cityofroses Member

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    I guess that’s fair
     
  16. oldmangrouch

    oldmangrouch persona non grata

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    Awww. What a sweet story. Sell it to Lifetime channel as a movie script.

    I would make a few changes. I would cast Slypokerdog as Lassie. Dame will be Timmy. LMA will be the aging pedo minister seeking redemption. Maybe we can get Kingspeed to play Jason Quick and a banned poster to be named later as Canzano.
     
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  17. e_blazer

    e_blazer Rip City Fan

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    Seriously. Couldn't Dame pick a fight with AD so that they can later make up and become Blazers buddies?

    I'm okay with LMA off the bench if that happens.
     
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  18. BonesJones

    BonesJones YouTube - TrueBlazerFan

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    Sounds like Aldridge has matured and gained some self-awareness.
     
  19. Orion Bailey

    Orion Bailey Well-Known Member

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    You knowwhat though?

    Fuck it. If he has matured and learned people make mistakes. Id take him back.
     
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  20. The Professional Fan

    The Professional Fan Big League Scrub

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    Freaking anything but Aminu at PF
     
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