The basketball world received some surprising news on Thursday as Brooklyn Nets veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge announced his sudden retirement from the league on social media. Aldridge, 35, cited an irregular heartbeat as the reason for his retirement. Aldridge said he played his last game on April 10 against the Los Angeles Lakers while dealing with the issue, and at this point in time he felt the need to put his health over his career.
Here's the statement in full from Aldridge:
Today, I write this letter with a heavy heart. My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat. Later on that night my rhythm got even worse, which really worried me even more. The next morning, I told the team what was going on and they were great getting me to the hospital and getting me checked out.
Though I'm better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I've experienced. With that being said, I've made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I've put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first.
I'm thankful for everything this game has given me: the great memories, including all the ups and the downs, and the friendships I've made and will keep with me forever. I thank Portland for drafting a skinny, Texas kid and giving him a chance. The city of Portland has given me some unforgettable years.
They will always remain in my heart. I want to thank the Spurs for letting me into the family and giving me 5 fun years. Last but not least, I want to thank Brooklyn. You wanted me for me. In a game that's changing so much, you asked me to come and just do what I do which was good to hear. I'm sorry it didn't get to last long, but I've definitely had fun being a part of this special group.
You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it everyday. I can truly say I did just that.
The Nets, and the league at large, will surely miss Aldridge, who was selected second overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2006 NBA Draft and then immediately traded to Portland. Shortly after Aldridge announced his retirement, Nets general manager Sean Marks released the following statement:
The Nets organization fully supports LaMarcus' decision, and while we value what he has brought to our team during his short time in Brooklyn, his health and well being are far more important than the game of basketball. We know this was not an easy decision for him, but after careful consideration and consultation with numerous medial experts, he made the best decision for him, his family, and for his life after basketball. We wish LaMarcus, Kia, and their family much health and happiness going forward.
It's always rough when a player is forced to call it a career before they intended to, but Aldridge, at least, had a really good run in the league over the past decade and a half. With that said, here are three things to know about his retirement:
1. An extremely productive career
Aldridge has been in the league since 2006, and in that time he amassed some major numbers. He will hang up his sneakers just 49 points shy of 20,000 for his career (19,951), which puts him at 47th all-time in total points scored. In addition to scoring nearly 20,000 points, Aldridge also grabbed 8,478 rebounds -- good for 62nd all-time -- and swatted 1,140 shots, which is 68th on the all-time list. He also added 2,034 assists and 744 steals. Thanks to his positive production, Aldridge was named to seven All-Star teams and five All-NBA teams. He's also just one of 25 players ever to compile over 19,000 points and 8,000 rebounds over the course of his career.
Aldridge spent the majority of his playing days in Portland, where he became the Blazers' all-time leading rebounder (5,434) and third-leading scorer (12,562). He also played the fifth-most games in Blazers history (648). For his career, Aldridge averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 blocks in 34.2 minutes per game.
2. Aldridge will be missed in Brooklyn
Aldridge only played in five games for the Nets since signing with the team last month, but he projected to be a big part of what they hope to be a deep playoff run this season. Aldridge started in all five of the games he played with Brooklyn and averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 26 minutes of action per performance with the Nets. As a big man, Aldridge provided Brooklyn with floor spacing around their star trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, and he was someone they could run the offense through in the high post. As a solid passer and shooter, Aldridge fit in well with what Brooklyn does on the offensive end, and he was yet another weapon for it. He also has 72 games of playoff experience, which is valuable for a team hoping to make a title run. Aldridge's absence won't make or break Brooklyn's season, as he was basically icing on the cake for an already-stacked team and they have other big bodies to turn to, including Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton. None of those players can do exactly what Aldridge did, though, even late in his career, and the Nets will surely miss the versatility that he provided moving forward.
3. Headed to the Hall?
Now that Aldridge's playing days are over, it's only a matter of time until people start debating whether or not he belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame. At face value, Aldridge appears to be a player who's right on the edge. He compiled some serious stats over the course of his career, however he was never considered to be one of the five or so best players in the league at any point, and his resume lacks deep postseason success. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Aldridge's current Hall of Fame probability sits at .50, which is below other current players such as Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love. It's important to remember that the Hall of Fame accounts for a player's entire career, including college, and Aldridge had a solid run at Texas. He was named First Team All Big 12 and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.
Like most players, Aldridge surely hopes to make the Hall as enshrinement is the highest honor for a basketball player. But at the end off the day, Aldridge compiled a complete career, and he walked away from the game with his health, which is what matters most.