Interview: Aldridge on positivity, the future, his game, the movies, his son
Part two of a transcript of an interview with Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge conducted Tuesday at the team’s workout facility in Tualatin, Ore.
Aldridge balancing negativity with the Blazers’ devoted fanbase and the support the team receives:
Just speaking on all the negative things, those are rare. We have more positive fans that love us and know that we’re not selfish and we’re about winning. It’s a select few that are negative and saying bad things, and I think we have more good fans than that. With everything that’s gone on this year, with Greg, with Joel, I think playing here, even though our record isn’t as good as it was (last year), it still gets us up and makes us excited to play here. Because we know whether we have five guys or 12 guys, they’re going to be sold out and they’re going to cheer us on until the last second of the game. I think we was up on Indiana (Mar. 3 at the Rose Garden) by 30, and it’s like three minutes left in the game and everybody’s still sitting there. And I’m just like, ‘This is amazing that these fans are so dedicated to us that they’re willing to stay to the buzzer goes off just to cheer us on, just because we’re winning it.’ They love us so much and when we’re doing well, they enjoy that experience. They want to stay for the whole game. Like, normally, when you’re up 20 and it’s in the fourth, everybody’s going home. But I liked around and I’m like, ‘Yo. Everybody’s still here.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s how much they love us here.’
On being a Blazer for the foreseeable future:
I’m excited about it. I don’t think I’m going to find another city that’s going to find another city that’s going to embrace us like this. Just last year, I went home and I told my family, ‘I wish I could’ve been there to see the (playoff) rally.’ When we went to the playoffs, it was crazy. They had us on the news driving down. And then we get there, and it’s like unbelievably crowded. And we get on stage and we talk for about four or five minutes, just about the playoffs. And they loved it. We hadn’t played no game. It was unbelievable the support that we got, just for making it. So, I see us getting better. I see Nic growing into a Scottie Pippen-type player. I see myself getting better. And then Brandon doing what he do. And Greg getting better. So, I see us winning multiple championships. So, I can only imagine how, if that parade was that big for the playoffs, what it’s going to be like when we actually win it. I think that kind of intrigues me to keep working hard and to want to be here to actually see that in person. Because coach (Maurice) Lucas talks about it. He’s like, ‘Man, when you win it, you have no idea what this city does. This city shuts down. Nobody goes to work. Kids don’t go to school. They just celebrate that we won. They love their basketball so much that they live, eat and breathe it. Once you win it, you will see how much this city really loves you.’ I want to see that for myself.
On the evolution of his game and criticisms about what his performance lacks:
I’ve definitely grown a lot, as far as understanding the game. I think when I first got here, I could really score. … I think now, I’ve learned so much offensively, and I’ve learned how to play the game and how to read play to play. I think when you play this game for so long, you really learn the ins and outs and you learn the little tidbits of, ‘OK. This guy’s fronting me. Don’t run all the way around. Just seal him and ask for the ball.’ I think I’ve grown so much mentally that it makes the game easier for me. And I think shotblocking is kind of difficult because I go from having Joel, Greg and Marcus. I go from ‘They go block it and I go box out’ to ‘I don’t have them anymore.’ And I’m like, ‘I try to go box out and I should be blocking a shot.’ So, it’s kind of hard to stay in one mindset when you keep changing it up. (It was) ‘They go clean it up and I go clean up their mess.’ But then when they’re out, I’m supposed to go clean it up. And I’m still in the mindset of, ‘I’m going to go box out.’ So, I think that’s been the difficult thing to do this season, is to try and get a rhythm of doing a thing consistently. But I think this season has been good for me and I think I’ve gotten better. And I think as time goes on and I learn more and more, I should get better at blocking shots and defense.
On one area he’d like to improve in his game:
Going left, probably, and putting the ball on the floor. I think I’ve shown I did work this summer on getting to the basket. And I think going left, too — I think I’ve gotten two or three and-1s going left. I think I will make it where I can go right or left, evenly. Like, not really go left sometimes because they are forcing me to go left. Just being able to read and go either way any time in the game. And I think being able to isolate at the elbow and actually go off the dribble and make my own shot. Right now, I probably do one or two dribbles. But I want to be able to do more to make teams not be able to take me out on the post. Then I can just go out on the elbow and get the ball and then make teams pay from there.
On getting away from the game:
I love movies. I go to the movies and catch like the latest movie where it’s really empty. Pick my own seat and get really, really comfortable. I watch movies and pretty much just watch movies and chill at the house and play with my son. I think those are things I can do that just help free my mind up, where I’m not focused on basketball for that second, and I can kind of come back to basketball and it can be kind of fresh to me.
On his son:
It’s crazy. They learn so much. You kind of, like, to get see their personality bloom. And he’s at that stage where he’s getting personality and he’s learning things.
On how his son has changed him:
When I had my son, it really made me (think), ‘OK. This is basketball.’ Even if I’m having a bad week or a bad game, I play with him and it makes it all, like, ‘That’s basketball. Go work hard and find your rhythm, but don’t get down about it.’ Earlier in my career, if I didn’t play well, I’d be down like the whole week. But having my son, he kind of makes me shake it off and regroup and come back strong.
Check Monday’s Columbian for an in-depth feature about Aldridge.