How a Spurs assistant forced his way onto LaMarcus Aldridge’s plane and persuaded him to sign

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For a while, it seemed the Clippers were holding DeAndre Jordan hostage until he spurned the Mavericks and re-signed with Los Angeles.

Turns out, everything was pretty relaxed at Jordan’s house.

The real dramatic meeting between a free agent and pushy team rep involved LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge met with teams in Los Angeles, and then he touched base with Ime Udoka, a Spurs assistant and former teammate of Aldridge.

Aldridge, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:

 

Q: Did I hear it right that he flew back to Dallas with you after your LA meetings were over?

A: “It (the meeting process) was done. I was down to two teams, Phoenix and the Spurs. I thought (Udoka) was staying in San Antonio for the summer, so I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a jet going to Dallas. You could get a flight from Dallas to San Antonio (to head home).’ So he was like, ‘Cool.’ So he gets on the jet, and I’m like, ‘We’re leaving. You should buy your flight (to San Antonio from Dallas) on the plane. Go buy your flight.’ He was like, ‘I ain’t buying no flight.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘I live here (in Los Angeles) right now. I’m flying just to answer any questions that you have.’ I was like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Get off the plane.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to answer any question that you have.’ So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Don’t do this.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’

“So we rode – and I had my kids with me and my mom – so they sat in the front of the plane and him and I went to the back of the plane and talked the whole flight. It was just conversation, about the system, about me. It wasn’t really a lot of questions. It was just him telling me how I’m going to fit in. Everybody was making this big fuss about how I’m not going to be able to take shots anymore, or be the scorer that I am, and he was just telling me, ‘We need a guy to score down there. Tim (Duncan) is older, and we need a guy to command a double team down there.’ So I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not a Spur, because I’ve been averaging 23 (points per game) for the last three to four years, and maybe I don’t fit into y’all’s system of let’s all average 17 (points per game).’ And he was like, ‘No, we’re not trying to change who you are and make you average 16 or 17. We want you to be you, because you’re going to help us be better and vice versa.’ He kind of reaffirmed that they didn’t want to change me, and that who I am is ok.”

Aldridge obviously had a preexisting respect for Udoka. Otherwise, that could have come across as more intrusive than helpful.

Likewise, Aldridge clearly had a preexisting respect for the Spurs. He’d been linked to them long before free agency and any meetings.

So, I think he would have chosen San Antonio regardless.

But the Suns made a compelling pitch, and it’s a darn good thing for the Spurs Udoka made this final push — just in case.