Trail Blazers fans will always look at LaMarcus Aldridge as what could have been.
From the days of Brandon Roy and Greg Oden that was disrupted by injuries to the summer of 2015 when Aldridge left for the Spurs after an injury to Wesley Matthews ruined any hope of a deep playoff run.
It's not just fans who wonder what could have been, though.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard shares the same sentiment.
"My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat," LaMarcus Aldridge wrote in his retirement announcement. "Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse, which worried me even more… Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night 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.”
Now that LA ends his career with the Brooklyn Nets as a seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection as well as Portland's all-time leading rebounder with 5,434 and has scored the third-most points in franchise history tailing 12,562, Lillard believes Aldridge will go down as one of best Blazers in team history.
“He’s one of the greatest players to play here,” Lillard said following Thursday’s practice.
Aldridge dealt with heart issues his entire NBA career including his rookie season with Portland.
Issues relating to an irregular heartbeat for L.A. first appeared in April of 2007, his rookie season in Portland when he was diagnosed at that time with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition of abnormality of the heart that can cause dizziness and rapid heartbeat.
When Lillard was drafted by the Blazers in 2012, the Aldridge and Lillard duo became one of the most popular in Portland.
Thursday morning, Lillard used the hashtag ‘What Could Have Been’ when replying to Aldridge’s announcement on Instagram.
Lillard shared what he meant by that after practice.
“With my development, CJ [McCollum’s] development, who knows what that could’ve turned into.”
With that common daydream among many in Portland, Lillard also believes that Aldridge's number should be retired in Rip City, which he expressed on ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby Show.
“I think everybody was expecting him to return and he ended up leaving and it was kind of like, people felt some kind of what about it,” Lillard added.
“But there’s no denying what type of career he had in Portland and what he meant to this city, I think that’s the proper respect, is to retire his jersey because of who he was and what he did for this organization.”