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LaMarcus Aldridge Selects San Antonio: “If you build it he will come”

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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LaMarcus Aldridge Selects San Antonio – “If you build it he will come”

This summers most coveted free agent: LaMarcus Aldridge has chosen to join the San Antonio Spurs. The deal is said to be a 4-year $80 million dollar max offering.

For the past four days it felt like we were playing the game “Where’s Waldo” as pundits tried to track LaMarcus Aldridge‘s whereabouts and decipher how teams were fairing in their recruitment of Aldridge.

In fact the process to determine his new contract destination highlights the evolution of parity in the Association in more profound ways than ever before.  Aldridge was unapologetic for publicly chastising the Lakers, citing their pitch as being short on substance and big on style (life style that is). This statement and Aldridge’s approach to free agency showcased the new dichotomy of basketball.

For decades Los Angeles and New York reigned supreme as the cornerstones of the Association with the Lakers and Knicks as closely related to entertainment as Hollywood and Broadway are.

Perhaps there was such a gradual change management in those locations hadn’t caught up to analytics and the growing focus on substance or maybe they just figured “if it ain’t broke….”.

More likely the explosion of social media and technology broke the barriers of earning potential. Now any small market can be competitive for star athletes. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have thrived in Oklahoma City and Aldridge heading to San Antonio won’t mean he has to forgo advertising revenue.

In today’s technological age your appeal isn’t limited to the two coasts or even North America. Rather the allure is worldwide  with instant access to information and the ability to build a brand without needing to live or play in what used to be considered the blue chip markets. Earning potential is limited only by an individual’s ability to brand themselves properly, and even that can be accomplished via meetings over the web or on iphones.

In the end, Aldridge chose the Spurs over the Suns who came in a close second proving small market teams with a solid strategy aren’t excluded from the big name stars. Case in point, throughout the history of the NBA if the Lakers or Knicks requested a sit down it was a veritable certainty the meeting would take place.

Yet those two markets specifically were the ones that least impressed Aldridge. Instead it was the Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs who received serious consideration. Moreover, Aldridge cancelled his meeting with the Knicks and was left cold by the Lakers use of celebrities to win him over. Suffice to say “Show Time” doesn’t have the same pull that it used to.

What likely led to Aldridge’s selection of San Antonio was the Spurs offered several very appealing features other teams couldn’t offer as a whole:

  • An opportunity to play with hall of fame players
  • To be part of an organization with multiple championships whose core tenet is winning
  • To play a feature role on a squad who understand their identity and whose very success is based on the execution of fundamentals like ball movement. Albeit the Spurs make executing those fundamentals appear symphonic in comparison to much of their opposition who are still learning how to play chopsticks.
  • To be taught by the maestro of head coaches (Gregg Popovich)
  • To play for  for a team who’ve nurtured their young stars to mature into leaders.
  • Further, where even the smallest role is considered vital and subsequently the depth of the squad is unparalleled
  • From a logistical, financial standpoint the team resides in a non tax state.

In contrast the competition pales in comparison, specifically his existing team who’ve dismantled their core either via trade or the mass exit of what will now be 5 of the 6 top players from last seasons team.

In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine Aldridge would ever not pick San Antonio.

Although they suffered some personnel loses: Marco Belinelli , Tiago Splitter , Aron Baynes, Jeff Ayres to create cap space the veteran core 3 of  Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili  remain (though Ginobili hasn’t formerly announced his return it’s assumed probable).

Moreover, they retained key contributors Danny Green and Boris Diaw.

And now with Aldridge have the components in place for a future core three of Kawhi Leonard, Aldridge and Patty Mills.

While the Spurs will need to add depth (specifically up front) the current plethora of talent will undoubtedly present copious options of individuals willing to offset financial gains in exchange for winning a championship.

To that end, David West is considering joining either the Wizards or Spurs pointing to the ease with which recruitment will occur.

While the impact of this move is sure to send Western teams scurrying to shore up their squads, perhaps the greater lesson to be learned from “This Decision” is a message to ownership and management across the Association:

Begin at the foundation by establishing your core identity, then every move you make be it via the draft, trades and even coaching decisions needs to align to fit that strategy.

The days of large markets wining and dining athletes, selling them solely on celebrity and earning potential via advertising revenues are over.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies “If you build it, he will come!”

– Tamberlyn Richardson : @TTOTambz

Next: Winners and Losers of NBA Draft 2015

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