Ian Thomsen of SI.com writes that Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge is emerging as a leader this season and that Aldridge is now in a position to reflect back on his earlier career, including his time alongside Brandon Roy and Greg Oden under coach Nate McMillan.
"I've been that chip-on-my-shoulder guy, because why else would I still know what they said on draft night, word for word? I am that guy who has that chip on his shoulder, because it's needed. That's what motivates me. It fuels me. But also I'm older. I'm a lot older now, and I'm starting to feel it. So as you get older, you realize people are always going to say things that you won't like or things that might not be true, but if you go out and you do your job, all of that goes away.
He spent his early years trying to fit in constructively: as a rookie alongside Zach Randolph, then with emerging team leader Brandon Roy. "I was a sidekick," recalled Aldridge, who disagreed -- without saying so publicly -- when he believed Greg Oden was being featured ahead of him.
"I saw myself as No. 2," he said of his role behind Roy. "But when Greg would get back healthy, I would become No. 3. They would give Brandon plays, Greg plays, and then me, so I would kind of fizzle out when Greg got healthy. And then he would get hurt again, and I would get more touches. It would kind of go back and forth every year.
"I understand Greg is a really good player, and I've seen him dominate games, so I kind of understood it. But I think you had to keep going with what was getting you wins. Myself and Brandon and us playing off each other is what was getting us wins, and that's what got us into the playoffs. So I felt that [coach Nate McMillan] should have brought Greg along even more slowly and made him mesh with us, rather make him No. 2 and me No. 3."
Thanks to verdant in the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter