NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge retires at 35, citing heart condition

LaMarcus Aldridge was expected to be a role player for a team with championship aspirations.
LaMarcus Aldridge was expected to be a role player for a team with championship aspirations.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTIMES, AFP, REUTERS) - LaMarcus Aldridge, a seven-time All-Star centre who recently signed with the Brooklyn Nets, unexpectedly announced his retirement on Thursday (April 15), saying he had experienced an irregular heartbeat during a game last week.

The 35-year-old has dealt with heart-related issues during his 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association and has a condition that causes a rapid heartbeat. He played his last game on Saturday, a 126-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Brooklyn.

"My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular heartbeat," he said in a statement released on social media.

"Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse which really worried me even more."

He said he went to a hospital the next day to get checked.

"Though I'm better now, what I felt with my heart that night was still one of the scariest things I've experienced," he wrote.

"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 family first."

Aldridge, who was signed at the end of last month, was the latest of many marquee additions to the Nets in recent years and was expected to be a role player for a team with championship aspirations. In five games with the Nets, he averaged 12.8 points and 4.8 rebounds on 52.1 per cent shooting.

"The Nets organisation 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," Sean Marks, the Nets' general manager, said in a statement.

In his rookie year, Aldridge learnt that he has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that causes a rapid heartbeat. He occasionally missed games over the years because of an irregular heartbeat.

He was drafted with the second overall pick in 2006 by the Chicago Bulls and immediately traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. He spent nine seasons with the Trail Blazers and then signed with the San Antonio Spurs.

Aldridge is particularly beloved in Portland for helping the team win a play-off series in 2014, which was the franchise's first series win since 2000.

His career averages of 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds in 1,029 games will make him a candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame. He made two All-NBA second teams and three All-NBA third teams.

"I'm thankful for everything this game has given me: the great memories, including all the ups and downs, and the friendships I've made and will keep me with me forever," he said, thanking Portland for backing a "skinny, Texas kid and giving him a chance".

He concluded his note with this message: "You never know when something will come to an end, so make sure you enjoy it everyday. I can truly say I did just that."