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Nets' LaMarcus Aldridge retires after experiencing irregular heartbeat

Nets center LaMarcus Aldridge shoots a free throw

Nets center LaMarcus Aldridge shoots a free throw against the Pelicans during the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on April 7. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Nets might have stockpiled the deepest talent pool in the NBA, but after battling injuries all season, they suffered a permanent loss when seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge on Thursday announced his retirement because he is suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

Aldridge was signed as a free agent less than three weeks ago after negotiating a buyout from the Spurs, and he started all five games he played at center, averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 blocks. After a poor performance in a 126-101 loss to the Lakers Saturday night at Barclays Center, Aldridge went out of his way to take blame for the loss and faulted himself for being "way too passive" against Lakers center Andre Drummond.

As it turned out, there was good reason. Aldridge was placed on the injury list Sunday for an "illness," and after missing the next two games, he announced his retirement in a poignant letter posted to his social media accounts:

"Today, I write this letter with a heavy heart," Aldridge began. "My last game, I played with an irregular heartbeat. Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse, which really worried me even more.

 

"The next morning, I told the team what was going on, and they were great getting me to the hospital and getting me checked out. Though I’m better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I’ve experienced.

"With that being said, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For 15 years, I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and my family first."

Aldridge thanked the Trail Blazers for the first nine years of his career and the Spurs for the next five-plus seasons. In 1,029 games since becoming a first-round draft pick out of Texas in 2006, Aldridge averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocks. He was named second-team all-NBA in 2015 and 2018, and was a third-team selection in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

The 35-year-old veteran also thanked the Nets, writing, "You wanted me for me . . . I’m sorry it didn’t get to last long, but I’ve definitely had fun being a part of this special group.

"You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it every day. I can truly say I did just that."

The Nets released a statement from general manager Sean Marks, who said: "The Nets organization fully supports LaMarcus’ decision, and while we value what he has brought to our team during his short time in Brooklyn, his health and well-being are far more important than the game of basketball. We know this was not an easy decision for him, but after careful consideration and consultation with numerous medical experts, he made the best decision for him, his family and for his life after basketball. We wish LaMarcus, Kia and their family much health and happiness going forward."

Veteran DeAndre Jordan, who was replaced by Aldridge in the starting lineup, seems likely to regain that role for the Nets (37-18) against the Hornets (27-27) Friday night at Barclays Center.

New York Sports