Wednesday night, when DeAndre Jordan “returns” to Dallas — the team he said he would play for this summer, then changed his mind — fans there will greet him with a Foo Fighters concert volume of boos.
But he is not the only returning player Wednesday night, there is a true return:
Will Trail Blazers fans boo LaMarcus Aldridge as he returns to Portland in a San Antonio uniform?
I expect a mix of boos and cheers, with the latter winning out. This certainly will not have the venom to be unleashed in Dallas earlier in the night. But if the Blazers fans want to boo Aldridge, he understands and is good with that he told the Express-News.
“You have got to see it for what it is,” he said. “I love those fans. I love that city. They were great to me, so some people are going to be hurt about the move I made. I understand it, so I’m not going to take it personal. I understand their loyalty to their team. That’s what they are supposed to do.”
Aldridge’s transition to the Spurs system is still a work in progress. Aldridge is used to heavy minutes and a lot of touches, but the Spurs system is about team and sacrifice, so he is playing fewer than 30 minutes a night and getting 13.1 shots up a night, the fewest since his rookie season. His shooting efficiency is starting to return (32 points on 22 shots the last two games combined), but the volume of touches is down.
Aldridge has called it a process — he is learning to play off other guys rather than being the guy everyone plays off of. Coach Gregg Popovich has said he is still getting a feel for Aldridge’s game and where they can slot him in their offense to do the most damage. That said, it will come around, and everyone expects his role to grow as the Spurs get closer to the playoffs.
For now, the difference Blazers fans will see is rather than the Aldridge/Damian Lillard show, the Spurs and their balanced team attack are coming to town. Aldridge is a part of that machine now. And machine’s don’t care if you boo them.