Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge joined Jim Rome of the CBS Sports Network to discuss the upcoming 2012-13 season on Friday. Here's a transcript. The video is below.
New coach, new teammates. Is this a new organization?
"We do have a new coach, a new system, a bunch of new young guys. It's definitely different this year, learning a new offense and learning my new teammates."
Seven years in, you're the guy, it's your team
It feels good. This is a a really good year for me to make that step and lead my team, become that guy who can become the closer and be that main guy every night.
You embrace becoming the closer
Yes I am. I definitely worked hard over the years. I think I'm ready to make that step.
Discuss going from being the No. 4 option earlier in your career to being No. 1 now
I went from the third or fourth option to the glue guy to being here now. I definitely don't take anything for granted, love the position I'm in, I cherish it, that's why I'm trying to get better every night.
Expectations, rebuilding season?
It's tough. If we go out every night and compete, guys work hard and improve, we should put ourselves in a position to be good this year and even better next year.
First All-Star appearance? Did it come when you expected?
I thought it was going to come at least one year sooner. It happened last year and that was great for me. I'm definitely not satisfied, I want to be a two, three, four time All-Star. I'm not satisfied. I'm going to keep getting better every year.
Are you recognized as elite now thanks to All-Star nod?
Yes, I think so. It puts me in a different group of guys. I notice it every night. Guys want to guard me harder. Guys who didn't play as hard versus me, now they play extra hard.
Do you have a No. 2 guy on this team?
I think that's going to be Nic [Batum], between Nic and Wes [Matthews] this year. I feel like those guys are going to be big for us this year. When they re-signed Nic this summer, they told him he's going to be the No. 2 option. He came into this preseason playing like he's the No. 2 guy. I think even Wesley Matthes has come back better. Our first, second and third guys should be better and Damian Lillard, is really, really good too. He should be in that mix also.
Do you see potential for Lillard as a franchise point guard?
I do. The guy is talented. He has the poise, the skill level, that those big-time point guards have. He's making plays where I'm going, 'Wow.' He has that pace to his game, guys don't speed him up. He is a big-time score, he definitely has that upside.
100 percent healthy after hip surgery?
It was a long offseason doing rehab and being on crutches but I came back strong. I feel great now, I put on more weight. I'm about 258, 260.
Deadly blood virus over the summer
I was driving my car, kind of got sick. I went home, it got worse and worse. I went to the hospital and from there it got even worse. Honestly, I was really scared because they were saying, 'This virus is pretty serious.' I was there for about four or five days, they couldn't figure out anything. They tested for every type of virus and couldn't really figure it out. They were kind of frantic about it. That had me scared. That was one of the scariest moments of my life but I got through it and I'm back to normal.
Here's video of the interview.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter