One of the more unexpected developments in the NBA this season (to most of us that is) as we near the All-Star break, the young Portland Trail Blazers find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the West. Despite featuring five key contributors and a paper-thin reserve core, the Blazers have exceeded expectations with a 25-24 record – good for ninth in the Western Conference, just a game back of eighth place. Leading the way for Portland, and making his second All-Star appearance later this month in Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge continues to play elite-level basketball while carrying this Blazers franchise. Even though Aldridge is widely regarded around the NBA as one of the best power forwards in the game, the 27-year-old still doesn’t get the type of media or fan attention that status likely deserves. In speaking with players and coaches around the Blazers organization, no one is quite sure why Aldridge doesn’t get much play in the national media. “It does surprise me,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “I know this franchise values him, but for some reason he doesn’t get the recognition or the respect he deserves around the league. He’s a quiet guy, he’s a humble guy. I’m glad at least the people that matter: the coaches, players around the league; he has the respect from them and that’s what’s important. “Obviously, the franchise is very proud of him earning [an All-Star spot] the last two years. I thought the previous year he was as or more deserving , so he’s established himself as a franchise player and he means a lot to the franchise.”