A chaotic summer helped mold Aldridge's no nonsense leadership skills

A chaotic summer helped mold Aldridge's no nonsense leadership skills
October 4, 2013, 5:00 pm
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TUALATIN – On Monday during Media Day, he refused to say if this team, as constructed, is a playoff team or not.

He declined to guesstimate a win total. The summer is in the past. He wasn't revisiting. The All-Star forward is fixated solely on what lies ahead.

Portland Trail Blazers' forward LaMarcus Aldridge desperately desires to be playing in the postseason as an alternative to making early vacation plans. That's his goal. He's been to the playoffs and knows how much work it takes to get back there.

That's why he believes it's premature to go out predicting wins. Aldridge wants to see if guys are truly committed, and is gauging if there is a team understanding and willingness to work to make the postseason a reality.

Anybody can make predictions,” Aldridge told CSNNW.com. “You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't come in this gym and work hard, if we don't gel together, then it doesn't mean anything. Of course we're talented enough, but if we don't work hard, we're not going to make the playoffs.”

LaMarcus Aldridge sat in his chair on Monday surrounded by the dozens of reporters, and in an intense, but firm matter, he controlled the interview session and prevented it from going to an unnecessary place.

There were no jokes made on his part. He wasn't there to give folks what they wanted to hear. The eight-year veteran kept it strictly business, knowing the potential of this Portland Trail Blazers squad.

I felt like if I didn't control that interview, it could have gotten out of hand,” Aldridge said. “This season can be positive for us, being a whole new team. I wanted it to be about that, not about all the things that happened last summer.”

One of the major qualities of being a leader is knowing how, and when, to take control. In a tight ball game with 10 seconds remaining in the game, you want your best player, and hopefully that best player is your leader, to come take the ball and will the team to victory.

Aldridge did that off the court on Monday. He made sure he wasn't going to be the distraction of this team. His evolution as a leader is evolving before our very eyes.

However, there was a time when Aldridge wouldn't have fared so well with the media. He's never really liked to talk, but when he did, he often spoke without thinking first or simply answered questions to just about anything.

I'm the type of follow my example-type of leader, but over the last few years I've become more vocal and part of it is learning when to be vocal and when not to be, Aldridge explained. “That goes to the media, too. I have to know when to be vocal and when not to.”

Aldridge's eventful summer is well documented. It wasn't quiet, to say the least. Looking back, Aldridge alluded to maybe that experience being a blessing in disguise.

He's never really adjusted well to being the player that everyone seeks after games. The attention, the exposure, the request – he'd rather it be someone else. But it comes with the territory when you're a two-time All-Star.

And it seems as if he's realized that, better yet, has learned to embrace it.

I'm used to it now,” he said. “This summer has definitely been good for me as far as growing with the whole media thing. You all are just doing your job and I'm doing mine. I don't have anything against the media, I just don't like when things get twisted.

In the end, I think I'm a better person for all of it and will be a better player this year. I know that I haven't reached the point where I want to be. I want to be more dominant, I want to be better late in games. I can be more dominant on defense. I feel like having Lopez this year, I will be able to show that I can block more shots and be more active on defense. I have goals of doing those things this year.”

Aldridge is currently nursing a left quad strain and will be out of action for a few days. But that hasn't stop him from being a leader and remaining engaged. Whether it's pulling guys to the side, or simply kicking their butt in practice, he's setting this type of tone: If you want the playoffs, show me.

I've been around teams where you have guys like Michael Curry, Nate McMillan, Eric Snow, Darvin Ham who are great leaders but aren't the best players. And you have guys that are the best players and LaMarcus falls into that category,” Stotts said. “He's very professional, he leads by example, he's vocal the way he needs to be vocal. I think the best leaders are the ones that have the respect of their teammates and their coaches. LaMarcus has all of that. He's focused.”