Plenty of pro ballplayers give lip service to the importance of winning, while looking to amp their individual achievements. How many NBA players — at least in the prime of their careers, will agree to take a lesser role on a team that has a chance to achieve greatness? Remember: their agents go to the negotiating table with a stat sheet, whereas not too many get rings. Not many players opt for a “small market” team over a big one like LA or New York either, with all the tangential marketing ops those big markets deliver.
The #1 NBA free agent this summer, LaMarcus Aldridge, had the whole world in his hands. Yet Aldridge chose the small-market, proven winner San Antonio Spurs — a place where he’ll have to fit into a system, rather than dictate it. It’s a smart and refreshing move from a superstar. Aldridge didn’t have to take a pay cut or anything — he’ll make the max salary in San Antonio. But he opted to go with the team-focused, defense-oriented Gregg Popovich system, rather than somewhere he could have demanded the ball and padded his stats. Bravo. Another winner for the Spurs, which attracts them. Rip City will miss LaMarcus.