Damian Lillard reflects on LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to leave Blazers
Nearly five years ago, LaMarcus Aldridge called time on his nine-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers to sign with the San Antonio Spurs. He has then gone on to carry on with his dominance under the tutelage of legendary coach Gregg Popovich, but at this point, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been if the seven-time All-Star opted to stay in Portland.
Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard looked back on his partnership with Aldridge in a recent appearance in Darius Miles’ “Knucklehead Podcast” for The Players’ Tribune, and in his mind, Lillard is adamant that they would have already won a chip if Aldridge stayed on board.
“When I look back on it, I just be like, ‘Damn.’ ‘Cause if me and him would’ve stayed teammates and I could get to the level that I’m at now, I’m like, O.K., we could’ve for sure got one [championship].”
Lillard cited a very specific circumstance to prove his point, looking back at his very first postseason appearance back in 2013.
“Our very first playoff against [the] Houston [Rockets] in Game 1 he had like 46 and 18. And he fouled out. And this is my first playoff game and I ended up with like 30 and seven and something. I finished the game off. So it’s like we could’ve had a lot of those situations where it’s like when you go down or when you step out, I’ll take it over.”
There’s no denying that a prime Aldridge and a prime Lillard pairing would have been quite a formidable duo. Then again, there’s no way of knowing if Lillard would have developed into the cornerstone superstar he is today if he was playing in the shadow of Aldridge. All we can do now is speculate and theorize, but in reality, we will be left with more questions than answers in this “what if”-filled scenario.