Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge waiting for All-Star call
Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t mind the speculation that he’ll be selected to play in the All-Star Game on Feb. 26 in Orlando. But unless the NBA commissioner gives him the news first, Aldridge isn’t going to buy into the hype until the All-Star reserves are officially announced on Thursday.
“They got to call my name on that day on television and say, ‘These are the reserves,’ for me to believe I’m in,” Aldridge said. “I won’t believe no leaks, no articles. If David Stern writes an article saying I’m in, I’ll believe it. Other than that, I won’t believe it until they call my name.”
Aldridge has reason to wait to celebrate. A year ago, he was one of the league’s biggest All-Star snubs. Despite averaging 21.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks at the time – for a Blazers team that had a winning record – Western Conference coaches didn’t select him as a reserve, instead choosing forwards Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and rookie Blake Griffin to go along with starters Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
Aldridge said he was “robbed” and spent the 2011 All-Star weekend vacationing in Mexico instead of Los Angeles, where the game was played.
“I felt like I had done enough,” Aldridge said. “I felt like my body of work spoke for itself. I didn’t believe I was in just because of how things go. I had so many players in the league say I was going to make it. You start thinking, ‘I’m going to make it.’
“When I didn’t, it was just tough because I felt that the value of what’s an All-Star kind of changed. An All-Star back in the day led his team, got wins and had good numbers. I feel like now it’s more about who you are, how many commercials you have.”
Aldridge has built an even stronger case for his selection this year. He’s averaging a career-high 23.1 points, which ranks seventh in the league and third among West forwards. Aldridge, Durant and LeBron James are the only players averaging more than 22 points while shooting better than 50 percent.
Durant and Griffin have already been voted in by the fans as the West’s starting forwards. The West coaches will likely select three or four more forwards from a group that includes Love, Rudy Gay, Nowitzki, Duncan, Gasol, Danilo Gallinari and Paul Millsap.
“He’s matured; he has been consistent over the last three years,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said of Aldridge. “He’s shown growth. Even though we’ve lost a lot of guys to injury, we have continued to win and compete and get to the playoffs. His numbers have continued to improve. If your numbers are up there with the All-Stars and the team is winning, you should get that opportunity to be one.”
Brandon Roy’s career-ending injuries and Greg Oden’s ongoing knee problems remind Aldridge that he can’t take his current success for granted. Just a few seasons ago, the three of them looked like the core of a potential championship-contending team. Knee problems forced Roy to retire before the start of this season and Oden hasn’t played in two years.
After Roy became a three-time All-Star and the Blazers’ leading scorer and unquestioned leader, Aldridge took over that role last season.
“I don’t ever get too high or too low,” Aldridge said. “Just as quick as I got to this spot, I can be out of this spot. I hate to bring up Brandon, but he is a good example of how you can have something one day and then things can change so quickly for you. I always try to stay right in the middle.
“You always like hearing good things about yourself, but you want to keep working hard, too.”
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