LaMarcus Aldridge is a bit of a throwback.
In the age of ubiquitous three-point shooting he’s a man who has built his prolific career around the mid-range both in the high and low post.
He has been one of the main go-to scorers if not the go-to scorer on any team he has played on, whether that be in college with his native Texas Longhorns or at Portland or San Antonio in the NBA. Of course, on the Nets things are a bit different.
When the seven-time All Star joined Brooklyn’s cast of superstars, he knew that wouldn’t be the case but the 20,000 point mark was still well in his sights, and he got within 49 points of the milestone before his life changed last April. He suffered an in-game cardiac event and that was followed by the devastating news that he would have to retire from the NBA because of an irregular heartbeat condition.
It looked like a sad and sudden end to a very impressive career. But his luck turned in September after his doctors fully cleared him to play once again.
He rejoined the Brooklyn Nets. And on Friday night, with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Aldridge hit a 22-foot jumper to reach that 20,000th career point mark. He scored 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting in Brooklyn’s 105-98 win against the Indiana Pacers in 28 minutes of action.
In achieving the milestone, Aldridge became the 48th player in league history and the seventh active player to score 20,000 points, joining LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.
“It’s a blessing,” said Aldridge following the game. “True blessing.
“Definitely. Didn’t think it was going to happen after what happened last year. Stuck with it, fought back and definitely felt good to get it done.
“Last year was a crazy year for me, it was a long road coming back and I’m just blessed to be here.”
“He has scorer’s instincts,” team-mate Durant said. “(It’s a) huge accomplishment. …(A) huge milestone.”
As well as his personal accomplishment on the night, Nets head coach Steve Nash was pleased with Aldridge’s role in the team’s victory.
“He was great,” Nash said postgame. “Obviously scored when we needed it but also stuck to the game plan.
“That was a really important performance, and to cap it off he went into 20,000 which is incredible territory and a testament to what a career he’s had.”
For the second time in a week, Aldridge has more than 20 points in less than half-an-hour off the bench, after managing it in Philadelphia against the Sixers last week.
There was a key spell in the third quarter in Friday night’s win at Barclays Center where Durant was facilitating for the team and Aldridge was the key beneficiary, feasting from the mid-range.
The 16-year-NBA veteran has previously said: “In this day and age, the mid-range is considered a bad shot, I guess. But I got 19,000 some-odd points off the mid-range so you tell me it’s a bad shot, I don’t believe you.”
And although analytics gurus might argue, Aldridge has shown, and is still showing, the production to back up his point – and given where he was six months ago, it’s a remarkable achievement to be back playing at such a level.