We're just hours away from Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge's first appearance in an NBA All-Star Game.
Aldridge looked and sounded like he was trying to get through Saturday's media availability without saying anything controversial. He even refused to pick a Slam Dunk Contest or Three-Point Contest winner, claiming he needed to "do some homework."
Anyway, here's a round-up of Aldridge coverage this weekend.
Some very strong quotes to Jason Quick of The Oregonian about how the circumstances of Brandon Roy and Greg Oden created an opportunity for Aldridge to emerge -- and get paid -- in Portland.
"I probably would have ended up signing somewhere else," Aldridge said. "Think about it. I was the last option out of those guys, so they both would have gotten max deals, and they wouldn't have given me my deal (five years, $62.5 million). They only signed me because I was the only low post threat left on the team. If they had Greg, they don't give me the number I wanted, and I'm somewhere else. I think about it all the time. I wouldn't even be here had Greg not gotten hurt."
A little late, but here's a preview clip of Aldridge's cameo in "Portlandia" on IFC.com.
Rob Mahoney at The New York Times' Off The Dribble blog with a great outside-the-box angle: using numbers to find the NBA's best "frontrunners," or players who help their teams build leads so that crunch time play isn't necessary. Aldridge makes the list, along with big names like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
Aldridge is the only player on this list who does not play for an elite team, and not coincidentally, is the only player on this list who functions as his team's sole star player. Superstars like James and Durant score throughout the game as a matter of unstoppable talent, and though Aldridge is spectacularly capable and productive in his own right, he does so more as a matter of necessity.
Aldridge did an interview with ESPN Radio on Saturday, touching on some familiar topics: Roy, Oden, the All-Star snub, etc. Here's his assessment of Blazers guard Raymond Felton.
"Even though he hasn't played as good as he can, I feel like after this break he's going to play better."
Jeff McDonald of MySanAntonio.com has a story on how Aldridge and Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward just missed crossing paths at the University of Texas.
"I was sad he left early," Durant reflected Friday in Orlando. "We didn't get to play together. I'm happy he's an All-Star this year, and I'm glad I get to play with him now."
Like Durant, Aldridge admits he ponders the national titles that could have been, but never for long. Even with all that assembled talent, Aldridge says, it's difficult to predict how it all would have meshed.
"Sometimes, you can have too much talent, and a coach can't use everybody right," Aldridge said. "I'm glad things worked out like they did."
Brendan Bowers of SlamOnline.com has quotes and pictures from Aldridge's NBA Cares work.
"I can't take all the credit," Aldridge said as he stepped back to admire the installation of a mailbox he just wrapped up. "I came in, helped mix the cement, poured the cement in, put the mailbox pole down, leveled it out, poured the cement around it, and then put the sand down. Now, it looks good."
It wasn't the first mailbox LA installed either, he went on to tell me. "When I was in New Orleans I installed some mailboxes there too," he said. "We actually put the mailbox part together there though, so this pre-assembled mailbox, just having to attach it to the pole, it was easy for me at this point."
Barbara Titus and Huy Tran of ThePWE.com with a transcript of some of Aldridge's All-Star Saturday comments and some more pictures from the West team's practice. The highlight: Aldridge called shifting Batum into the starting lineup "a really good move by Nate" McMillan.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter