A quickening heart rate wasn’t something outside of the ordinary for the Brooklyn Nets‘ LaMarcus Aldridge. During his rookie campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers, the seven-time NBA All-Star learned that he had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital heart condition that causes the muscle to beat rapidly for periods of time.
That night — an April 10 game against the Los Angeles Lakers — was different, though. Aldridge’s heart had seemingly gone into overdrive, and it scared him and his doctors enough that he abruptly retired from the game that he loves.
Fast-forward to now, and Aldridge is back on the hardwood, his brief retirement having ended as shockingly as it came about. And he’s currently balling out for the Nets, putting up 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 62.7% from the floor through 10 games. What’s more, he’s playing without the worry that forced him out of the league last season.
“I feel excitement, joy, to be back doing what I love to do,” he told the New York Times of the comeback. “And to have what happened and have it taken away so quickly, and to now be back in it, I feel joy. I’m thankful. I’m enjoying every minute of it as I’m out there. No fear. I went through enough testing where fear is no factor.”
Retirement Wasn’t Aldridge’s Bag
When Aldridge retired, he had done so to save his own life. However, the fact that he had a very good reason for hanging up the hi-tops didn’t make the transition any easier for him. The break from his routine as an NBA veteran was a major shock to the Aldridge’s system.
“The first day didn’t feel real,” Aldridge told the Times. “The first day felt like I had an off day. And then your second day, you feel like it’s a game day, so you’re just at home. And after like a week or two, you’re like, ‘Man, I’m not at the gym. I’m not with the fellas. I’m not traveling, not playing.'”
Things apparently didn’t get much easier as time went on.
“Like two weeks in, I was like, ‘Man, this is what it is. I have to find my new interest, shift my focus to something else.’ That’s when it hit me, like, ‘Man, what’s next?’”
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Back in the Saddle
Fortunately, Aldridge has been afforded a little more time to come up with an answer to that question. In the meantime, he’s back on the court with the Nets and pinching himself for being able to do so.
“It was exciting to be back with the group that I knew the previous year,” he said of his first day at Nets camp. “It was exciting to show that I still can play this game. I wasn’t gone long, but I feel like people feel like I was gone for, like, a whole year, and it was like five months. I feel like everyone was like questioning, ‘Can he still play after retiring?'”
The answer there was clearly a resounding yes. Just ask the Chicago Bulls, who watched Aldridge score 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting while adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots on Monday.
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