The free agency malestrom surrounding Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge involves numerous unseen personal factors that could influence the star forward's decision. The Oregonian's Jason Quick uncovered a special connection that Aldridge has made that creates an incentive for him to remain a Blazer.
Quick spoke with Lynda Walker, the director of community relations for the St. Mary's School for Boys in Beaverton, a school for youths who have experienced difficult childhoods. Aldridge has visited St. Mary's many times during his nine seasons in Portland, and according to Walker, he greatly cherishes the time spent with the children. She points to Christmas Day 2013, when Aldridge made a surprise showing at the school, as an example of how much he values being with the St. Mary's boys.
Aldridge arrived around noon, face swollen and chauffeured by a friend. The day before, he had four wisdom teeth removed. He told Walker it was hard for him to talk. She asked him why he felt he needed to do this.
"And he said 'I just want the kids to know I care about them,''' Walker said.
Inside, about 60 boys were eating turkey dinner when Walker flicked the lights on and off to get their attention. Then Aldridge emerged from around the corner.
"Forks dropped,'' Walker said. "Kids were literally rubbing their eyes.''
So, while Aldridge's free agency fate may ultimately be determined by motives such as family, friends, or championship-chasing, Quick's article reminds us that he has little-discussed relationships and commitments that could make a difference.