This past weekend for LaMarcus Aldridge was no different as he made his seventh overall All-Star appearance while representing the San Antonio Spurs for the second consecutive season. Unlike last year, Aldridge was able to enjoy his break stress-free without having to answer questions about his relationship with coach Gregg Popovich or the Kawhi Leonard saga.
As a result, the smooth jump shooting big man was able to relax and reflect on his latest accomplishment.
“It means a lot to be here again, but I think it’s going to mean more when I’m actually done playing,” Aldridge said during his media availability during All-Star weekend. “Now I’m just living in the moment so that I can stay hungry to get better and keep improving. It’s an honor to be here representing the Spurs again because we try to do things the right way and play basketball the right way and that’s the reason its been 21 years and going the organization has made the playoffs.”
Despite struggling at times during the first half of the season, the Spurs are in seventh place at the All-Star break after winning six of their last 10-games heading into the break. San Antonio will need continued development from the likes of Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Bryn Forbes if they plan on making any noise this postseason.
Although the youngsters on the roster have all been plagued by injuries, inconsistencies or both, Aldridge likes what he has seen out of his young supporting cast so far this season.
“We have an entirely new core and we are depending on young players who are finding their way,” Aldridge said. “Derrick White has been awesome for us and he has been getting better but is injured now and hopefully returns after the All-Star break. We also have Bryn Forbes who is a young talent, so you have so much young talent that you are depending on that you are going to have a lot of up’s and downs with a young core.”
After making the All-NBA second team last season for the second time in his career, the Spurs All-Star is trending towards making his sixth All-NBA team this season thanks to averaging 21 points and nine rebounds per game through 55 games. Though it’s no secret that Popovich and Aldridge’s relationship didn’t begin on the right foot, the talented seven-footer feels that Popovich’s resting methods will not only have him fresher in the playoffs but have extended his career a little similar to the way it did for Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol.
“The methods definitely have extended my career because ‘Pop’ believes in saving your body and we do a lot of things to prolong our career and just be fresh,” Aldridge said. “I think over the years that adds up just knowing you are playing longer and being healthier and not being immensely burnt out for sure.”
With challengers coming from all directions in the Western Conference, Aldridge must continue dominating and being a double-double machine if the Spurs want to make one of their deep patented postseason runs this year.