Aldridge Unlamented, Learns leadership qualities from Paul, Bryant on bench

Aldridge Unlamented, Learns leadership qualities from Paul, Bryant on bench
February 17, 2013, 9:45 pm
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All-Star Postgame: LaMarcus Aldridge

HOUSTON – In the fourth quarter of the 2013 NBA All-Star game, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge only played five minutes in a decisive quarter that saw the Western Conference overtake the Eastern Conference 143-138.

Chris Paul, who took home the game's MVP award after posting numbers of 20 points, 15 assist and four steals subbed in for Aldridge with 6:50 left in the game and it was on the bench where Aldridge was able to observe something far more beneficial than just playing meaningless All-Star minutes.

He studied the leadership of Paul and Kobe Bryant down the stretch.

Just seeing how these guys lead,” Aldridge said. “How Chris Paul leads, how Kobe plays defense in the fourth quarter. Just watching these guys who have been leaders for years and years. Taking that leadership and using it in my own...trying to get into the playoffs.”

Aldridge has made tremendous strides in becoming more of a leader starting from when he orchestrated voluntary workouts before training camp was set to open. He has picked his spots to voice his opinion this season and he's handling adverse situations like a true veteran.

In last year's All-Star game in Orlando, Aldridge was irked at the fact that he played nine minutes. Tonight he played a total of 11 minutes and ended the game with 0 points, four rebounds, two blocks and one assists. Only aging stars Kevin Garnett (6) and Tim Duncan (8) played less minutes.

When asked how he felt about his minutes, he brushed it off as he should have.

This time I can't complain,” he said. “I think I played like eight or 10 tonight. I thought that was fun for me. I enjoyed it. Just talking to the guys and being around them was good for me.” spoke with Aldridge personally and he said, "I'm good, this year."

An All-Star game is very much guard-driven, leaving limited scoring opportunities for the bigs who rebound the ball and outlet. Most of the time, a guard takes a shot before the big can get past halfcourt.

Especially if you don't dunk a lot like me. I don't,” he said after answering a question about the guard play in All-Star games. “So definitely, but I had good shots and had fun with it.”

Aldridge has learned that great leaders have to be careful about what they say even if it is only complaining about All-Star minutes. He has a young team that watches his every move and he has to set a good example.

If the captain of the ship is a malcontent, the ship will surely sink.

The two-time All-Star is growing as a player and person right before our very eyes and this year he didn't let a couple of hours on a Sunday night ruin his All-Star weekend.

I'm just more comfortable,” Aldridge. “This is my second time around. I knew the schedule, I knew the ropes. I wasn't as anxious this time. I thought I knew everybody here and I thought I was more comfortable this time.”

Kevin Durant had a game-high 30 points. Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 11 boards. Dwyane Wade added 21 points and seven assists.