As some of you know, Huy Tran and I are lucky enough to be down in Orlando experiencing our first-ever All-Star weekend at the same time LaMarcus Aldridge is experiencing his. While Aldridge’s experience is probably slightly different than ours, we will continue to place ourselves in the same general category as him for comedy’s sake. We spoke with Portland’s All-Star prior to All-Star practice this morning. We talked to him about the Blazers’ starting lineup changes, how the team handles the constant noise about the “fall of what could have been” with him, Brandon and Greg, and his newfound career in television. Enjoy! (All photos taken by Huy Tran.)
Do you actually love bologna?
“I really don’t, but I said it.” (Laughs)
How’s the [Portland’s] tempo for you for you this year compared to last year? Are you still adjusting to it or are you used to it now?
“Nah, I’m used to it now. I had all offseason to change it up so I’m used to it now.”
Just as I’m sure it is for you guys, it’s exhausting for Blazers fans to constantly hear the media talking about the fall of “what could have been” with you, Brandon and Greg. As team captains, how do you and Marcus keep the team focused and tune that out? How you do personally keep that out of your head?
“I don’t think guys are over here thinking about it right now. I mean we have a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces, so I think every guy on the team is focused in the moment, trying to get better and trying to win games now. We’re not trying to think about that right now.”
What are your expectations for the team moving forward since you guys had a bit of a rough patch right before the All-Star break?
“We’re in that eight spot right now, so I feel like we’re going to pick up speed in the second half and definitely try to move up.”
How do you feel about Nate [McMillan] shifting Nic [Batum] into the starting lineup? Do you think that he’s going to stay put?
“I do because ever since he’s started, he’s averaging 18, 19 points. I think that was a really good move by Nate, and I think Nic’s playing better now.”
What do you think about Nate [McMillan] shifting Jamal [Crawford] into the starting lineup? Do you think that will stick?
“We had one game with him, but he played great so I think that might stay for a while now.”
So now that you’ve done Portlandia, is that going to open you up to more films?
“I don’t know, hopefully. I’m definitely looking to do more fun things like that, but I don’t know.”
Here are some photos of LaMarcus from today’s All-Star practice. I have to say, it was pretty incredible to see him out there wearing the same jersey as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Steve Nash. The Blazers fan in me was absolutely beaming and bursting with pride throughout the hour-long practice.