When LaMarcus Aldridge was a senior at Seagoville High School, players could still jump straight to the NBA. I think I had seen a short piece on him in the Morning News, and being new to full-time feature writing after a long stint being the music editor at the Dallas Observer, I got the idea to follow him through that season, leading up to him deciding whether to go to college or enter the NBA draft.
I went to as many games as I could and interviewed him a few times. I remember introducing him to The Grey Album, since I knew he was a huge Jay-Z fan and I was a huge dork, I guess. I remember talking to him in his coach’s office a couple of days after Chris Bosh’s brother Joel hit a last-second shot at SMU’s Moody Coliseum to knock Seagoville out of the playoffs. Talking at him mostly—he was still gutted, could barely do more than mumble a few words. I remember him struggling in the McDonald’s All-Star Game and feeling bad for him, knowing that performance more or less making his decision for him.
Here is the story that resulted from all that, which I think about fairly regularly, not just because I see LaMarcus on TV but because I wrote it in the weeks after my son was born.
LaMarcus went on to the University of Texas and then the Portland Trail Blazers, where he excelled. I thought when he became a free agent, LaMarcus might have an inclination to come back to Dallas to team up with Dirk Nowitzki. But it was never close. He went to San Antonio to play with and then replace Tim Duncan, and then, earlier this season, after he fell out of the Spurs’ plans, he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
And now, today, after seven All-Star appearances, five All-NBA teams, and what feels like tens of thousands of 20-foot jumpers, LaMarcus has announced his retirement from the NBA, following a scare with an irregular heart beat. Is he a Hall of Famer? Who knows, and that’s a discussion for another time. He did just about everything he set out to do, and that’s more than enough. I hope the next stage goes as well for him.