Note: From time to time, Blazer's Edge promotes interesting content from the community. Today, Conspirator5 reflects upon the changes in LaMarcus Aldridge's look and demeanor in the first week of training camp, and what that might mean for both he and the Blazers. -- Tim [who cleaned up the HTML a bit]
Aside from the release of pent up fan frustration that comes with the opening of training camp, Media Day produced a lot of entertaining theater and more than a few choice quotes to mull over. We heard a lot of promising talk from players, the coach and the Front Office. In all the chatter it seems like an important development has flown under the radar. I come to you today to pull back the curtain.
LaMarcus Aldridge is a man. Not just a young man, but a man man. I present to you exhibit A:
It's enhanced by the new goatee he's styling, but you can see that the guy who admitted to "losing a step" a season ago has also earned a few lines in his face and the gaze of somebody who has been through some challenges. I've seen some comments here in the posts on LMAs new face, but the real deal here is that maturity is way more than skin deep. In listening to LaMarcus Aldridge's own comments, I'm hearing a more confident, more expressive, more assertive LaMarcus than I can ever remember. There's always been a hint of unrevealed depth in his reserved media presence... but I think those adjectives are going to fall by the wayside. Consider these moments from what should be a softball Mike Barret interview:
Robin has a different mindset you know. I love playing with JJ but it was other things going on with him. Robin just wants to play basketball, and he wants to win you know, and that will be fun for me, to not have someone out there with other motives.
When he came in [as new GM], Neil, he told me that we have guys that, you know, weren't bad people, but just wasn't fit to be with this team. He said, you know, give me one year to make some changes, and then he came with it this summer.
I don't mind playing minutes, just to go on the record. Just to go on the record, I didn't complain about minutes last year. At all. So just so everybody knows that. [Barret observes about keeping players fresh.] Exactly. I agree with that, but I did not complain about minutes last year.
[Playoff talk too early?] For me I think? It's not too early, but I don't want to go playoffs I just want to start with camp I think the first goal is to get in camp and get everybody with the same mindset... We have the team to really change things around and be dominant this year.
I hear him say all these things in a matter-of-fact tone and without hesitation, and it's striking to me. Previously LaMarcus has reflected on the Blazers becoming "his team" but there's no reflection here. It's a given that this team is built around him and he's pleased to be in this position. It makes me wonder if this summer's trade drama was purely a warning shot from the Aldridge camp to ensure that Neil stuck to his "give me a year" commitment.
But wait, there's more from Day 4 of practice:
But, Travis [Outlaw] a veteran but he's not a veteran, you know? He been in the league longer than everybody, but he carries himself like he's in his third year.
Not revelatory, but just an example of how relaxed LMA is through this entire piece. He's crackin jokes the entire time, getting jabs in at the rookies, the Blazers PR staff, and the occasional former teammate.
I called this article LaMarcus Aldridge 3.0 because we've already seen one transformation in LaMarcus already. After a few years of talk of LaMarcus Aldridge being soft and Chris Bosh being better, LaMarcus turned heads in the 2010-2011 season, the year he was considered the biggest snub of the All-Star reserve selections. This season, I believe we are going to see another phase in LaMarcus's career begin. A season where his role as alpha dog will be unquestioned, another career year in rebounding, and another layer of criticism will be scrubbed away.