It was a stunner when 35-year-old LaMarcus Aldridge announced his retirement in April after a 15-year career. He'd been playing great basketball and was part of a Brooklyn Nets team that was destined to make waves in the playoffs.
With all that in his favor, it wasn't a decision he reached lightly. Aldridge played his entire career with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a heart condition that can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat. He'd had it under control for years, but as he told The Athletic's Shams Charania in his first post-retirement interview, one tough game followed by a very scary night changed his entire perspective on continuing to play.
Aldridge had only been with the Nets a few weeks when had his heart incident. He had signed with them on March 28 after reaching a buyout agreement with the San Antonio Spurs, where he'd played since 2015. He'd play just five games for the Nets, and the game on April 10, which would end up being his last NBA game, is when he experienced an irregular heartbeat he just couldn't shake.
"I had irregular rhythm the whole game, and I hadn’t experienced that before," Aldridge told Charania. "Normally when I get on the court, my case study is that I would go into regular rhythm as I got my heart rate up. It had never been out of rhythm in a game and then it was out of rhythm for the Lakers game and I was just off and couldn’t get no energy. I just couldn’t get myself going. I couldn’t figure out what was going on."
Aldridge told Charania that normally, when his heart rate goes up, his heartbeat returns to normal. So he tried multiple things to get excited and hyped up about the game, including repeatedly crashing shoulder-to-shoulder with assistant coach Ime Udoka. Nothing worked, and when he got back to his hotel room, his heart rate didn't improve.