Sports improve our world. Whether we are talking about youth soccer, or the Super Bowl, diverse groups of people converge behind a common theme: the game. Families come together to watch them. Neighborhoods meet at parks to play them. City citizens support them. Nations converge to compete in them. Here in rainy Portland, we’re always looking for a way to connect with others. The winter rain causes us to isolate ourselves in our respective houses on dark nights. Yet a star shines a beacon of light through the grey. He brings us together like the sailors of old were guided to shore by the skies. Our star leads us to port. We dock together at the Rose Garden when we can, or in our living rooms or neighborhood taverns. We- Portlanders- Oregonians- fans- brought together.
LaMarcus Aldridge on the basketball court is out of this world. His turn around jumpers bring my young nephew and my hands together. High-fives! We laugh together at the distraught face of the unfortunate defender chosen to try and control him. We get upset as a family at some bogus goaltending call. We cheer together, we sigh together, we laugh together, and our focal point is Portland’s All-Star. Could any town boast a better power forward? I think not!
Aldridge is an NBA All-Star. Nobody in Stumptown is surprised. We’ve watched him devour defenses year in and year out. What is amazing is his desire to continue the trend of improvement. Aldridge is not satisfied. He wants to win a championship. He wants to help win an Olympic gold medal. L.A. wants his name to be hung in the Rose Garden rafters, engraved in bronze at the Hall of Fame.
I could talk about alley-oops and jams, mid-range jumpers, or key rebounds, but I’d rather talk about a player who works hard every night. Our All-Star improves his game day by day, year after year. His light shines brighter and brighter. It is only a matter of time before the leader of the Trail Blazers is leading us all in a June parade through RIP City!
This year has been tough. Our beloved B Roy had to call it quits. G.O. has had more knee disappointments. The beef between the owners and players created a whirlwind schedule and a season without practice. Somehow, through all of the chaos, Aldridge has managed to carry the team on his back and produce wins. Quality wins too. He has kept us all together, on couches, barstools, and bleachers.
Sure, the Blazers are not exactly where they’d like to be. Right now they are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Of course, there are plenty of teams that would love to be where the Blazers are. Despite inconsistencies, the Blazers are still a force to be reckoned with. Ask the Hawks, or the Nuggets, or the Spurs, or even the Magic (who came in and handed the Blazers their first home loss despite a furious comeback attempt). The Rose Garden is sold out every game. We are drawn to the arena like moths to a flame. Aldridge delivers, he keeps the team together, he keeps the fan base together, keeps our hopes and dreams of another championship together. On the darkest, rainiest Portland night, LaMarcus Aldridge shines. He is our star.
Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge Photo Credit: Icon SMI