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LaMarcus Aldridge: Ime Udoka got the Spurs deal done

LaMarcus Aldridge says San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka sold him on signing with the Spurs. 
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Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and five championships almost weren't enough for LaMarcus Aldridge to sign with the San Antonio Spurs this off-season. 

Instead, it took one more pitch from a former teammate to seal the deal.

In an interview with USA Today's Sam Amick, Aldridge reveals a plane trip with Spurs assistant coach and former Portland Trail Blazer Ime Udoka sealed Aldridge's commitment to the Spurs. 

Udoka played in Portland in the 2006-2007 season, which was Aldridge's rookie year, and two grew close. In the interview, Aldridge reveals Udoka flew with him from Los Angeles to Dallas, and that's when “Ime got the deal done.”

“I thought (Udoka) was staying in San Antonio for the summer, so I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a jet going to Dallas. You could get a flight from Dallas to San Antonio (to head home).’ So he was like, ‘Cool.’ So he gets on the jet, and I’m like, ‘We’re leaving. You should buy your flight (to San Antonio from Dallas) on the plane. Go buy your flight.’ He was like, ‘I ain’t buying no flight.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘I live here (in Los Angeles) right now. I’m flying just to answer any questions that you have.’ I was like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Get off the plane.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to answer any question that you have.’ So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Don’t do this.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’”

On the plane, Udoka reassured Aldridge he would still be called upon to score if he joined the Spurs. Aldridge was worried San Antonio would ask him to sacrifice much of his scoring if he joined the team. 

Aldridge signed a four-year, $80 million contract with the Spurs in July. 

- Rohan Nadkarni