Climbing The Ladder
When you think of the all-time great Portland Trail Blazers, does LaMarcus Aldridge come to mind? The answer will vary from person to person, but if you haven’t jumped on the L-Train yet, his most recent milestone might be enough to convince you otherwise.
In Tuesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, LaMarcus Aldridge passed Cliff Robinson as the third-leading scorer in franchise history. His 27 points and 16 rebounds will be what the Grizz remember, but his place in history paints a much more significant picture.
Before this season, nobody knew if Aldridge would even finish the 2013-14 campaign in Rip City. A summer full of drama combined with years of losing had people questioning his loyalty, and while his future is still undecided, there’s no doubt he’s established himself as one of the most prominent figures in all of Portland.
Aldridge has earned praise this season for his improvements, but his achievement on Tuesday proves that he’s been more than reliable throughout his career. In seven-and-a-half years, the forward has totaled 10,418 points, trailing only Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler.
Think about that. Despite all the drama surrounding Aldridge this past summer—not to mention past claims of being too soft, or too passive to be a leader—there are only two players in franchise history—arguably the two most renowned names—who have put the ball in the bucket more while donning the pinstripe.
We know where Aldridge ranks on the scoring list, but the next question is: Where does he rank on the list of Portland’s all-time greatest players. Scoring is one thing, but being known as the face of a franchise is another, and if the Blazers were to crumble into non-existence today, where would the 28-year-old rank?
Assuming Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter remain near the top, a laundry list of players immediately follow. Could you put him above Bill Walton, who despite leaving the team early in his career brought the only championship the city has ever known? How about Kevin Duckworth or Buck Williams? Would he surpass Maurice Lucas in the minds of today’s younger admirers?
Or how about his teammate and friend for so many years, Brandon Roy? If it weren’t for the degenerative knees that prematurely ended his career, the 2-guard would surely still be the Blazers’ primary scoring option, earning his own spot in team history among the all-time greats.
It’s a subjective debate at best, but one worth having. Aldridge hasn’t won anything significant yet, which is why this conversation becomes more relevant at the end of the year, and more specifically, at the end of his tenure in Portland.
Aldridge is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest players in team history, but for now, third on the scoring list will certainly do.