I am not given to feeling sorry for many professional athletes. I mean come on, they are making millions upon millions of dollars, right? Hard to feel sorry for them given that fact, right?
Well I do feel a little sorry for LaMarcus Aldrdige. The man works hard in a system that is built to feature Roy's style of play,not his. He still puts up a steady 18 - 8 stat line. Even in the disaster that was game 3 he put up 17 points and 7 boards.
He has been remarkably aggressive since the all star break as well. He has been staying in the post more and his defense has always been way under rated. Sure he has a couple of players that he has trouble with, Boozer comes to mind, but what NBA player does not have somebody out there that has their number? They all do with a very few rare exceptions.
My first pang of feeling a little sorry for Aldridge surfaced on Oden's big 24 and 12 night. I remember joining in the Oden chants near the end of that game and looking up at the stat line and noticing that Aldridge had posted 24 and 13. All the talk on Bedge was oden, Oden, Oden...I know the anticipation of Oden breaking out throguh this injury mess has everyone pulling for him, but LMA puts up impressive numbers fairly routinely and never seems to draw similar admiration.
Later in the season, the man puts up a huge 28 and 13 night in a big win against San Antonio without Roy and he gets little more than a nice round of applause at the end of the game.
My favorite moment of the year in the regular season was the Marcus Camby chant at the OKC game, but later that night I did catch myself wondering if LaMarcus thought, "hey I have had similar nights and don't get that kind of love." My bet is he did if I did. Not to mention this game proved how tough he is. Not many guys take a flying tackle with as much aplomb as LaMarcus did that night and it was key to the team remaining calm and focused to win that big game.
And then there was yesterday, 31 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal (he had more than that), he keyed many plays with hustle, kept knocking balls lose that got recovered by our guys and led the way, with Roy on or off the court. It was a monster game. He even scored 10 points in the 4th qtr (which has been my theory for why he does not get the love he deserves). Yet all the chatter is about Roy. Don't get me wrong, the Roy thing is HUGE, but so was the critical clutch playoff performance just turned in by LMA. We do not win that game without it. We are not 2-2 in this series without it.
I love this kid, he works hard, rarely if ever complains and yet turns in a steady performance for his team and us fans most nights. I think it is time we step up and return the favor and show LaMarcus some of the real fan love he has earned and deserves.