Aldridge was trying to reassure everyone he’d stay in Portland despite rejecting a contract extension. He could have gotten more money by waiting to sign a new deal that offseason. But by the time 2015 free agency rolled around, Aldridge had a change of heart and left for the Spurs – on fairly bitter terms.
Aldridge later reconciled with Damian Lillard and said he wanted to finish his career in Portland. Lillard even used the Trail Blazers’ official Twitter account to say he wanted Aldridge (who was still under contract with San Antonio) back in Portland.
But Aldridge stunningly retired from the Nets yesterday, ending any chance of a reunion.
Now, Lillard – who has supplanted Aldridge as the player on track to surpass Clyde Drexler for best Blazer ever – is calling on Portland to retire Aldridge’s number.
Jalen & Jacoby:
— Jalen & Jacoby (@JalenandJacoby) April 15, 2021
It’s time for the Blazers to retire number 12. He had an amazing career in a Trail Blazers uniform. I think everybody was expecting him to return, and he ended up leaving, and people felt some type of way about it. But there’s no denying the kind of career he had in Portland and what he meant to his city. So, I think that’s the proper respect, to retire that jersey because of who he was and what he did for this organization.
The Trail Blazers should retire Aldridge’s number – and probably will, eventually.
He spent nine seasons in Portland, making four All-Star teams. That combination of longevity and accomplishment clears the bar for a franchise that has already retired a whopping 10 numbers for players:
- No. 13: Dave Twardzik
- No. 14: Lionel Hollins
- No. 15: Larry Steele
- No. 20: Maurice Lucas
- No. 22: Clyde Drexler
- No. 30: Bob Gross
- No. 30: Terry Porter
- No. 32: Bill Walton
- No. 36: Lloyd Neal
- No. 45: Geoff Petrie
Most of those players – Twardzik, Hollins, Steele, Lucas, Gross, Walton and Neal – were on Portland’s 1977 championship team. Aldridge didn’t near that type of team success, winning only one playoff series with the Trail Blazers.
But his individual play was far superior to most of that group. Aldridge made three All-NBA teams Portland, something done by only Drexler and Lillard (who have each made five).
Trail Blazers fans are fairly evenly split on retiring Aldridge’s number. His ugly exit still looms large. But, in time, that will fade. Aldridge’s strong production and growth will become the dominant memories of his time in Portland.
Once that happens, the Trail Blazers will probably retire his number.