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Marcus, THE MARCUS, Blazers, and Ducks

What should LaMarcus Aldridge teach Marcus Mariota?

aldridge_060612[1] imagesCA08FJ6FThe big names from a past NBA draft were Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Draft junkies said the Portland Trail Blazers whacked a home run, scored a touchdown, hit a hole in one, and every sports cliché the gang trots out.

This time they didn’t say enough.

From the team Portland turned out the year before, up was the only direction.

Roy and Aldridge were the right match for Rip City, one a leader, the other willing to let him lead. By allowing Roy’s leadership to flourish, Aldridge got tagged with the wrong perception.

He’s soft? He’s inconsistent? He’s a follower and he’s won’t stick around?

Turns out that’s all wrong. He’s got enough backbone to carry a team on his shoulders. He’s been an All Star and will be again.

And he’s the one sticking. Sticking it to every team on the court. Sticking it to every power forward he’s up against.

As good as he’s been this early in the 2013-14 season, it’s fair to say a new LaMarcus showed up.

Aldridge is playing his new game and needs a new name. Call him El LaMarcus, or just The Man.

Every ball in play is his ball. Every shot from an opponent is his to block. Every turn around on the baseline better fall. If that’s not what The Man is thinking, he’s making us think it.

Any sports fan, any baby boomer, any gym baller, sees the difference. The Man looks like Bill Russell when he blocks shots back to mid-court, like Hakeem when he hits the long two. When he adds a sky hook, we’ll see shades of Jabbar in the Moda Center.

Where did LaMarcus turn the corner? Maybe it was the day he was fined $45,000 for showing Andrew Bogut a new dance step, and named Western Conference Player of the Week.

How bad is that?

It’s taken a few years to gear up, a few changes in personnel with perennial cast-off Gerald Wallace and aging poison Marcus Camby taking their acts out of town. Now there’s space to work the full spectrum sports.

There’s room for more than one Marcus in Oregon, but not if The Man blows up any bigger. Until then, ElMarcus sets a great example for the other Marcuses.

The one in Eugene should chart TheMarcus in Portland’s development curve and take note. Since he’s working on a shorter college time frame, next year’s Oregon Duck quarterback needs to fast track.

The following explains what LaMarcus has done, and what Marcus Mariota can do, too.

TheMarcus: No game is lost as long as your effort improves. Win the day your way and pull teammates along.

Marcus M: However scripted the plays are, finish each with a lead-in to the next. Show the defense they haven’t seen it all.

TheMarcus: As long as there’s an unclaimed rebound, make it yours and let others know you’re chasing it even harder next time. Some players get out of the way if you show it’s more important to you than them.

Marcus M: Make every touch the most important touch of the game. You know you won’t score every time, but play like you might, even after you hand the ball off. Call it focus.

TheMarcus: Know your roll and make your teammates better. They return the favor if they’re on the same page. And they are.

Marcus M: Your role is part driver and part tour guide. Aim the team the right direction and fire them up for sixty minutes. Stop blocking on sweeps, tackling after interceptions, and anything that might give someone a free knee to your noggin. Stay on the field.

TheMarcus: Accept the adulation and know it’s part of the game, not part of you. You will be player of the game, player of the week, player of the month. You will be player of the year. But you get there by every minute you play.

Marcus M: Whether you’re on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a Heisman hopeful, or the second coming of Johnny Football, stay on track. The outside noise is just that. People need someone to talk about, someone to pump up, and in the end, someone to tear down. If you get one side, you’ll see the other.

TheMarcus: Through injury, health scares, and family concerns, you show the sort of class too many in the NBA never get. This year you’ve let Portland show their love for you and your team. It’s your team LaMarcus, you’ve earned it.

Marcus M: You’re one of the best Oregon Ducks of all time, and still going. Make this your team. Go after your receivers, push the running backs. Most of all, thank your linemen. Oregon football fans believe you’re Dan Fouts, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Kellen Clemons, Dennis Dixon, and Darron Thomas. All in one. Do it for the Dutchman.

Watch LaMarcus work the game details. Take what you learn to the Alamo Bowl. This is the first game of next year. Make it yours, Marcus Mariota.

Brand the Texas Longhorns with the Double M.

(originally posted on





About David Gillaspie
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