Despite spending most of his career in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had his best shot at winning an NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs. Although he was not quite able to capture the elusive Larry O'Brien trophy in the Alamo City, he still thinks about the series that could've changed that.
As Aldridge told Shams Charania (subscription required) for The Athletic, the 2017 Western Conference Finals still keeps up awake sometimes. As he recounts, San Antonio was up by 25 points in the first quarter until Kawhi Leonard was taken out of the game by multiple questionable plays from Zaza Pachulia.
Aldridge helped lead the Spurs to back-to-back 60-plus win seasons, the one and only time they've done so in franchise history. Being part of Spurs history was special to Aldridge, as was playing with Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famers Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. "Those guys make the game easier for you," said Aldridge.
Only one of the Big Three was around for the Spurs' 2017 run to the Western Conference Finals, as Duncan had retired and Parker had ruptured his quadriceps tendon against the Houston Rockets. Still, Aldridge and Leonard were able to lead San Antonio to a Conference Finals appearance that could've ended very differently.
"Anything was possible that year," said LaMarcus to The Athletic. Unfortunately, with Leonard sidelined for the rest of the series, Golden State had a much easier time doubling Aldridge for the rest of the series -- one they would go on to sweep.
While he's having a tough time adjusting from his sudden retirement due to health concerns, Aldridge had nothing but positive things to say about his time in San Antonio. As he states, he understood the direction in which the team was heading and both sides left it on good terms.
"Nothing but love and respect from me," said Aldridge.