All along, it was clear that San Antonio was the ideal landing spot for LaMarcus Aldridge during free agency this summer.
But it took some creative convincing from the Spurs’ coaching staff to get the big fella to sign on the dotted line.
Aldridge, 30, says he is in no way looking to take over for Tim Duncan; he just wants to compliment his fellow All-Star on the block and provide a scoring punch.
Per USA Today:
Q: So I’ve heard that [Ime Udoka, a 38-year-old Spurs assistant and former Spurs player] was big in the free agency process for you, but was looking forward to asking you about it. That the case? […] A: “He was huge. As you said, I played with him, and when he played with us, him and I were really close. And even when he left to go to the Spurs, when we played against them we still hung out and he would get me into the practice facility so I could get in the cold tub. He has always been really cool with me, and I thought he played a vital part in this. If I had questions, I would call him. And when things weren’t looking as good (during the Spurs’ pursuit), him and I would talk for an hour or two, just going over everything. He would maybe reaffirm some things that I didn’t understand, or I didn’t think were accurate. I told (Spurs general manager) R.C. Buford, I said, ‘Ime got the deal done.’ (Gregg) Popovich (indicating that he’d remain the coach in the coming years) was very important to me, but Ime put in a lot of work on that.”
Q: Did I hear it right that he flew back to Dallas with you after your LA meetings were over? […] A: “It (the meeting process) was done. I was down to two teams, Phoenix and the Spurs. I thought (Udoka) was staying in San Antonio for the summer, so I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a jet going to Dallas. You could get a flight from Dallas to San Antonio (to head home).’ So he was like, ‘Cool.’ So he gets on the jet, and I’m like, ‘We’re leaving. You should buy your flight (to San Antonio from Dallas) on the plane. Go buy your flight.’ He was like, ‘I ain’t buying no flight.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘I live here (in Los Angeles) right now. I’m flying just to answer any questions that you have.’ I was like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Get off the plane.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to answer any question that you have.’ So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Don’t do this.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’”
Q: You had two very different situations in Phoenix and San Antonio. Was there any part of you that was worried about Tim’s shadow? Going with the Suns obviously would have been different, with you as the main attraction. […] A: “No, because I’m not trying to be Tim Duncan. I’m not trying to fill his shoes. No one is going to fill his shoes. First of all, he started there and he ended there. I’m not doing that. I didn’t start there. There’s no pressure, because I didn’t start there and I’m not trying to be him. My game is totally different than his.”