There is shocking news, and then there is Brooklyn Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge releasing a statement via Twitter at 10:45 a.m. ET Thursday — that he is abruptly retiring from the NBA due to an irregular heartbeat. In a Nets season that has been full of surprise and intrigue, this is the biggest shock of all.
“My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat,” Aldridge said. “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 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.”
In retrospect, Aldridge didn’t look like himself in that April 10 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 12 points to go along with just three rebounds. And now we know why. Thankfully, doctors caught Aldridge’s condition. It’s unfortunate that he won’t be able to chase that elusive championship ring in Brooklyn, but his health scare makes that pursuit rather trivial in the grand scheme of life.
Aldridge, 35, is one of only 25 players in NBA history with more than 19,000 points and 8,000 rebounds in his career, according to StatMuse. He’s a seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection. The Hall of Fame is very much a possibility. It would be a well-deserved honor.
Aldridge signing with the Nets for the veteran’s minimum had come out of left field. It was rather shocking news, which left many complaining about competitive balance and the buyout market. Miami appeared to be the favorites, but Brooklyn proved to be the destination. There were Texas ties, and San Antonio ties. There was also a guaranteed starting position at center, which Aldridge assumed the moment he was able. Even at this late stage of his career, his best qualities were on display. Defense. Post prowess. Perimeter shooting. High basketball IQ.
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A dominant, 22-point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 7 proved to be the highlight of his five-game stint with the Nets. But a little more than a week later, Aldridge’s career is shockingly over. DeAndre Jordan had been supplanted by Aldridge in the starting five and the rotation, but now figures to assume a bigger role again. Jordan did yeoman’s work trying to contain Joel Embiid on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Suddenly, Brooklyn will need more of that. This shocker is a setback, no doubt.
But mostly, it’s crushing for LaMarcus Aldridge, hopes of that first title dashed by an irregular heartbeat. All the best in your next chapter, LA.