The Portland, Oregon area has only one professional team in the four major sports, and that’s the Portland Trail Blazers. The Portland area loves their Blazers and have had a decent amount of success ever since the franchise got started. When LaMarcus Aldridge was drafted in 2006 the Portland fans knew he was going to be special.
But did they treat him as such? Reports have come out that Aldridge was unhappy with how much attention Damian Lillard got around the Portland area. Along with this, he apparently didn’t like the lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest.
Privately, Aldridge never made much of a secret about his dislike for the lifestyle and climate of Portland and the Pacific Northwest. As an organization, the Blazers could do nothing about it.
Aldridge loathed driving around Portland and seeing those Lillard billboards that adidas had mounted for him – even when the Blazers made Aldridge the centerpiece of every franchise marketing investment.
Throughout the final, formal meeting in late June, it became clear that Aldridge hadn’t let completely let go of years-old issues with the way he believed ex-Blazers Brandon Roy and Greg Oden had overshadowed him in his early years. This was part of Aldridge’s personality that everyone surrounding him understood – that the teams recruiting him had researched and debated internally on how to navigate in the recruiting process.
Leaving that meeting in Dallas in late June, perhaps little was more telling than the fact Aldridge never raised one particular name: Damian Lillard. Ultimately, this was the enigma of LaMarcus Aldridge. He wanted talent around him, but never too much that it might lessen his own marquee. Pleasing Aldridge was never easy, and nobody knew that better than the Portland Trail Blazers.
There were definitely a couple of factors that weighed into the decision Aldridge made to leave Portland for San Antonio. For one, he is a Texas born guy so he wanted to make his return to his home state to play a predominant part of his career. Another factor was that Portland was just always going to be on the outside looking in. The team had the right pieces, but for some reason just couldn’t make it far in the playoffs.
One irking factor is that Aldridge didn’t like the Portland lifestyle. An NBA player travels from almost 70% of the calendar year, so that means they aren’t in their towns as much as one would think. I think it was jealousy from Aldridge because he didn’t get the fans love like Lillard did.