The All-Star power forward lifted the Trail Blazers to an 18--6 start—fourth best in the West—averaging 22.2 points and 10.0 rebounds. A free agent after this season, Aldridge has only Portand (and its climate) on his mind.
DAN PATRICK:Have you ever been on [team owner] Paul Allen's yacht?
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE: Yeah, a few years back he was getting it serviced in San Francisco. We got a chance to walk on it and see how he lives. It was amazing. It was like having a Ritz-Carlton or Trump on the water.
DP: What was the most impressive thing?
LA: I hope I don't get in trouble. The bottom floor had a lounge with the floor made of glass so you could see the water. If he's in the Caribbean, I'll bet he could see fish going by his feet.
DP:Sounds like a disco?
LA: It wasn't the '90s.
DP:What's different about Anthony Davis this season?
LA: I think USA Basketball changed his mind-set and made him feel more dominant. He kept that same mind-set going into the season. He has a coach [Monty Williams] who's always believed in him—as he tried to do with me when he was [an assistant] in Portland.
DP:Who's the one guy you want to beat?
LA: Maybe Dirk [Nowitzki], because he plays in my hometown [Dallas].
DP:Can you see yourself returning home to play for the Mavericks at one point?
LA: You did not just say that.
LA: Whoa, whoa, buddy. I'm in Portland.
DP:Did I just tamper?
LA: Yes, you did. [Laughs]
DP:It seems like you don't show a lot of emotion on the court.
LA: People on the court might think differently. I talk more on the court if they're talking trash to me.
DP:Who's talking trash?
LA: Nobody anymore.
LA: I don't remember.
DP:Give me one name.
LA: In my younger days, KG [Kevin Garnett].
DP:He does that to everybody.
LA: You find young guys who come into your arena feeling they're better than they are, and they talk trash. I talk trash back.
DP:How's [point guard] Damian Lillard doing?
LA: He's growing. It's tough when you can score as easily as he can. He's grown in that position of knowing when to take his shot.... [Since] you have the Splash Brothers [at Golden State], what do you think about Damian and Wes [Matthews] being the Rain Brothers?
LA: We live in Portland. It rains. Just think about it.
DP:How about the Rain Bros?
LA: That sounds more cool. I didn't think you'd be more cool than me. [Long pause.] Oh, like a rainbow.
DP:How about we put a z on the end. Rain Broz.
LA: Bring it back down a level.
I asked Alabama star wide receiver Amari Cooper who is funnier, coach Nick Saban or offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. "Both are really funny," Cooper said. "Lane Kiffin tells jokes more relatable to us. Coach Saban has old-school jokes that you never heard before." ... College GameDay host Chris Fowler explained why claims that ESPN had an SEC bias were silly: "We are very tilted toward the top of the polls. When it's in one conference—which it was that one week in the middle of October—you're damn right we're tilted toward one conference. That's because that's where the polls are." ... Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a Chicago native, is a huge Cubs fan and recalled attending the Steve Bartman game at Wrigley Field in 2003. "I was in the rightfield bleachers," Krzyzewski told me. "As all that was going on, I was yelling, 'Call a timeout!' "
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ALDRIDGE)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KRZYZEWSKI)
BILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (COOPER)
ERICK W. RASCO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FOWLER)