Candace Buckner: LA is movin' on up
LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star once again
Thursday, January 24, 2013
LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star once again.
Thursday's announcement made it official, but the statistics he has produced so far prove that he has moved up to the penthouse of the Association. As hard as I tried to listen for it, Aldridge never hummed the theme song to 'The Jeffersons' as he teleconferenced with reporters on Thursday evening.
The sound quality wasn't the best, but the appreciation for his second All-Star selection came through loud and clear.
"It's a big honor," Aldridge said. "It means a lot to me."
Western Conference coaches looked beyond the scaffolding around this Blazer season and honored the man who has put in the most work -- Aldridge posts 20.7 points per game and 8.8 rebounds as he and LeBron James are the only two NBA players averaging at least 20 and 8.
So now it appears that Aldridge has earned the coaches' respect, but has he won your heart yet?
"Probably not. I don't think so," Wesley Matthews said, when asked if his teammate is valued enough. "It's hard to find a guy who does what he does night in and night out and (be) just as humble. We appreciate him. I appreciate him a great deal."
Seven years here in Portland, stroking in jumpers softer than Charmin. Even surviving the curse of knee injuries, so where are all the first-graders around town named LaMarcus?
"From day one I think he was always under-appreciated," said Mari Gonzalez, Blazer fan and Aldridge booster.
Love isn't a measurable thing. It's hard to judge popularity by scanning the Rose Garden Arena crowd and counting all those new and fresh Number "0" jerseys of Damian Lillard compared to fans like Gonzalez who wear Aldridge's name stitched on her back. Still, there's something missing here.
Maybe it's his game.
On Wednesday, Aldridge pumped in 27 points against the Indiana Pacers, working mid-range magic from his sweet spots on the floor like he has throughout his career. But kids don't stay up and watch SportsCenter highlights for 17-foot jump shots.
"He doesn't have a flashy game, you know, like Lillard," said Gonzalez's husband Ben, draped in his 2012 Aldridge All-Star jersey. "It's Lillard's first year here, but the hype has been about him because he's flashy."
OK, so maybe it's his personality.
After the Blazers snapped their six-game losing streak with a resounding 100-80 win over the Pacers, Aldridge seemed as enthused as a vegan touring a meat processing plant.
As a superstar, Aldridge makes for a tough sell.
Visit the Foot Locker store located just seven miles away from the Blazers' team practice facility and you won't find a spot reserved for one of Aldridge's signature Nike shoes. Let that settle in for a second -- it's Portland and the shoe stores promote Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant over the home team guy.
"I think he's underrated," Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw said. "But I think within the confines of the NBA fraternity, opposing coaches know how good he is."
When asked if whether or not he felt "underappreciated," Aldridge had a telling response. He chuckled, then dodged the question as he would a double team on the low post.
"Uhh, I don't want to get into all that," Aldridge said. "I thank (teammates and coaches) for saying that, but I don't really get into all that. I just try go out and do my job every night."
It's nice to earn an All-Star spot once -- guys like Michael Redd, Danny Ainge, Sam Cassell and Jameer Nelson are answers to trivia questions as one-timers. But it becomes something special when you're invited back to the party.
Aldridge becomes only the 11th player in Rip City history to earn multiple selections to the All-Star Game. So maybe now he has earned something a little more lasting.