For years, a desire to play with the Portland Trail Blazers is not something an NBA player would admit to. Even if you really wanted to join the team, you’d probably keep it to yourself. Kind of like taking the less-than attractive girl home from the bar. She might look appealing to you, but it’s not something you want your buddies to know about.
But things change. The Blazers aren’t the bad boys of basketball anymore. They’ve long outgrown their “Jail Blazer” nickname. A lot of that is thanks to one player.
As a former Texas Longhorn, I love watching fellow alumni succeed. It means even more when it’s not directly related to athletic ability. LaMarcus Aldridge has become the new face of the Portland franchise.
When I watched Aldridge play at UT, I saw tons of talent but the leadership ability was always lacking. He never had that fire that would push him to the next level. He always seemed content to go out there and give his best, but he should have been the guy that the other players followed and looked up to.
He’s really developed in the NBA. He’s become that guy that you want leading you into battle. With Brandon Roy constantly battling injuries, the team needed someone else to step up, and he’s stepped up to the challenge admirably. He’s more vocal on and off the court. He’s even stepping into the recruiting role for the team stating free-agent Carl Landry would fit perfectly in Portland.
It’s been a long time coming for the Blazers, who’ve had to shake off bad player reputations, losing seasons and questionable personnel moves over the last decade. They’re now one of the more dangerous teams in an always competitive Western Conference. They haven’t cracked the top tier yet but they have a lot of young talent and if they could dodge the injury curse for a few years, could really give some teams a run.
They’re a fun team to watch, and with a much friendlier face to the franchise, they could be picking up a lot more fans in the long run.