In a surprising tweet and follow-up story, Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that LaMarcus Aldridge, who stepped away from the game after a health scare in April, is thinking about returning this coming season.
Aldridge ultimately needs team medical clearance to sign a contract to play and is expected to have conversations with individual teams in the coming weeks, per sources. Aldridge has yet to make a final decision on playing again.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 4, 2021
On April 15, when Aldridge announced his decision to retire, he spoke of how he experienced an irregular heartbeat during a Nets game against the Lakers five days earlier, after which his condition worsened.
It was not his first experience with heart issues. As far back as his rookie year in 2006, he been diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome, which can cause arrhythmia. In fact, he underwent procedures in 2007 following his initial diagnosis and again prior to the start of the 2011 season. Both procedures occurred while he was a member of the Trail Blazers. He also reported arrhythmia in March of 2017 while with the Spurs. This time, though, things were different.
“My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat,” Aldridge said in a statement released on Twitter and Instagram at the time. “Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse which really worried me even more.”
The day after the game, he decided to check into a hospital out of concern that things would worsen.
“Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I’ve experienced,” Aldridge wrote. “With that being said, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from the N.B.A. For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and family first.”
Aldridge added, “You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it everyday. I can truly say I did just that.”
And with that he walked away from the game. In short time with the Nets, he proved that he could still contribute, even at 35 and with a new organization. Aldridge joined the Nets on March 28 after being released by the Spurs. In five games with Brooklyn, all starts, he averaged 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 27 minutes per. He was only 49 points shy of 20,000 career points when he retired.
Both at the time and afterwards, Aldridge talked about how much he liked his fit with the Nets. In an interview with Shams Charania six weeks after he retired, Aldridge credited the Nets organization with understanding his situation, giving him the time and space he needed to resolve things. The Nets issued a statement in support of Aldridge’s decision and Joe Tsai publicly thanked him for his contributions and wished him and his family well.
“They were upfront and I thought they were great with (saying): ‘This is on you; we don’t know how you felt and how you feel, so we’re going to follow your lead.’” he said Charania. “I thought that was awesome of them. I never felt any pressure to come back or make a decision based on the season. It was always: We fully understand what you’re going through, and so if this is what you want to do, you have our support.”
Aldridge has a long-standing relationship with Sean Marks. The two overlapped when Aldridge was a player for the Spurs and Marks was the assistant GM. He is also close to Kevin Durant and new Net Patty Mills, who he played with in Portland and San Antonio.
“It was tough because I felt I was at a location and with a team that embraced me. I embraced them,” he told Charania in May. “We all had a common goal and we had chips on our shoulder to prove something. It was bitter for me. I had finally found the cohesiveness that I had wanted for a while in a group. And then all of a sudden I can’t play anymore.
“I felt if I stayed with the group, we definitely could get to the Finals and do something special. Those guys rooted for me just as much as I rooted for them. That’s what makes the game fun; when you have a bunch of guys with no egos and everyone’s cheering for each other to do well.”
At the end of June, he said he would be willing to rejoin Brooklyn as a coach, responding to a fan’s suggestion on Twitter...
So would the Nets be interested in a reunion? That seems to be more a medical issue than a basketball issue. Even if he is cleared by the NBA’s cardiologists, the Nets own medical staff would have their say and the final decision would presumably rest with Marks and Tsai. So far, there’s no indication of which prospective teams Aldridge will meet with nor a deadline for making a decision. He was playing on a vets minimum deal in Brooklyn and that’s likely what he’d have to accept no matter where he plays.
- Former All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge seriously considering return to NBA this season, sources say - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN