The former San Antonio Spurs All-Star announced his retirement on Wednesday
LaMarcus Aldridge rarely got the attention he deserved during his 15-year career but he was the center of the NBA universe on Wednesday when he abruptly announced his retirement. The former San Antonio Spurs star posted a message on Twitter detailing exactly why he was choosing to step away from the game just weeks after joining the title-contending Brooklyn Nets.
Aldridge has dealt with heartbeat irregularities in the past and they resurfaced in a recent game. After calling it “one of the scariest things I’ve experienced”, Aldridge made the decision to put his health and family first and bring his storied NBA career to a close.
There was an immediate outpouring of support and appreciation from around the NBA shortly after Aldridge’s announcement. Former teammates posted countless messages of support thanking Aldridge for being a great teammate and congratulating him for all he’d accomplished.
As Aldridge steps away, we as an Air Alamo staff came together to discuss Aldridge, his decision, our favorite memories of his time with the San Antonio Spurs, and his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Immediate reactions to LaMarcus Aldridge’s retirement announcement
It was definitely a surprise because I had forgotten about his past heart issues. After reading his letter, it settled in quickly because obviously, he’s doing the best for himself and his family. A few minutes later, my mind shifted to a nostalgic feeling about his time with the Spurs and all he accomplished in San Antonio.
Pure shock, like just about everyone else. I’m literally writing a Jakob piece now that among other things, doubles down how unleashing him in Aldridge’s old role was the right move – but before learning why actually retired, my first thought was this dude is still killing it!
He might not have been the right fit for the Spurs, but a remember him that game where he carried the team to beat the Lakers in a super-efficient performance where he was defended well but just couldn’t be stopped.
Once I learned it was health-related though, my shock dissipated and I was truly genuinely happy for him. The Ringer’s farewell piece “LaMarcus Aldridge Walks Away Because Ball Isn’t Life.” I think that’s a beautiful message that captures Lamarcus’ decision here and I wish him nothing but the best.
I was surprised at first. But when I saw his explanation of what had happened and why he was making this decision now it just became really sad. He was just getting what might have been his last, best shot at getting a ring and now he has to make the decision to put his health first.
And then part of me is glad he’s making this decision. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy one to make but we should all be happy that Aldridge is putting his health first instead of potentially trying to play through something as serious as this.
Next: Favorite LaMarcus Aldridge memory
Jan 6, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) warms up past San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and former player Tim Duncan at AT&T Center. (Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports)
What is your favorite memory of LaMarcus Aldridge with the Spurs?
I feel like the common answer will be his 56 points against the Thunder, which probably is his best moment on paper. Personally, the moment the news broke that the Spurs were signing him is what sticks out to me first.
I still remember I was down my street playing basketball at a school when I looked on Twitter and saw the news. I immediately ran back to my house to tell my sister and we both started jumping around. It was the first huge name the Spurs were able to convince to give San Antonio a chance, and it was a big deal for the franchise.
My favorite memory was Tim Duncan‘s first basket of the 2015-2016 season and his first game with Aldridge on the team. Tony Parker was running his pick and roll from the same spot he always does, but instead of seeing Timmy faithfully by his side executing the screen, it was Aldridge, running the baby slip and commanding so much attention on the catch you would think it was 2005 Duncan.
Aldridge immediately, finds Duncan, now in the David Robinson-esque “dunker slot” for Tim’s easiest two points of that entire season. To me, it was a beautiful passing of the torch, and it filled me with hope for what could have been, even though it didn’t quite work out that way.
It has to be his 56 point game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I remember watching LaMarcus slowly grind the Thunder down with his deep array of post moves and fadeaways. It was even more amazing to watch because by the time the game got into the fourth quarter it was so clear that the Spurs were going to look for Aldridge every time down the court, the Thunder were just powerless to stop it.
When it was all done, LaMarcus scored 56 points on 20 of 33 shooting from the floor with a perfect 16-16 night from the free-throw line. Not a single three was taken. It was all old-school post and midrange work.
I can appreciate the fast-paced, three-point heavy offenses that run the league today but a not so hidden cost of the increased emphasis on three-point shots has been what it’s done to midrange scorers like Aldridge.
When he was in a groove like he was that night against the Thunder, Aldridge resembled something more akin to a dancer than a low post bruiser. It was art, and it’s something we don’t see much of in the league today.
Next: Is Aldridge a Hall of Famer?
Should LaMarcus Aldridge be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame?
It’s hard to argue with 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on 49 percent shooting. He also increased his average points, rebounds, and blocks when the postseason kicked in.
LaMarcus is the sole reason the Spurs’ playoff streak extended beyond 2016-17. In the midst of all the Kawhi Leonard injury drama, he averaged 23 points per game on 51 percent shooting.
If you’re consistent for over a decade of your NBA career, the chances are you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. LaMarcus should be inducted when it’s all said and done.
No, he’s not. Aldridge was magnificent. But he was known for scoring and to a lesser extent rebounding. He retires today outside the top 50 all-time in scoring and 71st all time in rebounds. He’s never averaged 24 points or more a game, only hit double-digit rebounding twice in his career, and those are the things he was known for.
Aldridge was a fair defender at best during his prime and didn’t offer a whole lot as a passer either – hitting 1.6 blocks only once in his career, never averaging over a steal a game, and always under 3 assists on his career.
The advanced stats support these claims too because again, I get that defense is more than blocks and steals, and assists or lack thereof doesn’t equate to good passing. This would all be fine if Aldridge was seen as this penultimate winner but the Spurs kind of floundered with him – he retires ringless and with only one WCF appearance.
Again, I don’t fault Aldridge for any of this and truly do celebrate his time here and wish him the absolute best in retirement. Just saying looking at the body of work, I don’t think he makes the cut – I’d be the first to celebrate him and be pleasantly surprised if it happens though.
I’m not sure. He’s on the edge but I wouldn’t go all the way and say that he’s a lock. He’s got the career numbers to merit Hall of Fame consideration and the All-Star and All-NBA appearances to back it up. The one thing missing from Aldridge’s resume, the thing he left San Antonio to pursue in Brooklyn, is a ring. And that’s what makes his early retirement such a sad one.
If LaMarcus had been able to get a ring this year I think he’s an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame. There shouldn’t be much debate around that. But as it stands today, I’d say it’s a toss-up. I certainly hope he gets in, he does deserve it.
In his heyday, LaMarcus Aldridge was one of the best players in the NBA. He was a dominant force with both the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs and now that he’s called a wrap on an illustrious career maybe, just maybe, he’ll finally be celebrated the way he should have been all along.