Aldrich is accustomed to a scary birthday
When your birthday falls on Halloween, certainly people must give you plenty of grief.
“Nah,” said Thunder center Cole Aldrich, whose missing front left tooth is not part of any costume. “They’re just jealous.”
Aldrich turned 22 on Sunday, a night that ended with a frightening 120-99 loss to the Utah Jazz inside Oklahoma City Arena. It was a night when it seemed everything (other than 88.2-percent free-throw shooting) went wrong for the home team.
But for a fleeting moment, things couldn’t have gone more right for Aldrich, whose birthday present was a chance to play in his first NBA game.
Aldrich’s first 48 seconds against the Jazz has to rate as one of the most impressive for any rookie in league history. He entered with 1:29 left in the first quarter and 28 seconds later followed a James Harden miss with a ferocious dunk that brought the Thunder bench to its feet. The sellout crowd’s reaction grew louder with each replay on the scoreboard.
Initially, there was disbelief. Thunder fans were expecting rebounds, swatted shots, massive screens and probably too many fouls from their 6-foot-11, 245-pound Kansas rookie, not LeBron James swooping in to slam home a teammate’s miss.
It had to be the most impressive dunk of Aldrich’s life. Sure, there was a nice two-handed follow slam he had his freshman season at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., but that was against the Ohio Bobcats. This was against the Utah Jazz.
Twenty seconds later, Aldrich collected his first NBA steal. Things calmed down considerably after that. Aldrich finished with five points and two rebounds in 10:51 of playing time.
Afterward, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked what he thought of Aldrich’s performance. “We lost the game,” Brooks said with a shrug. “We didn’t play well as a team. Cole is like any other player on this team. We’ve got to get better.”
KU basketball is big-time, but the NBA is bigger. Aldrich didn’t get into the game because his parents came down from Minnesota and were in the audience, nor did he play so the Thunder could justify why it acquired the No. 11 overall draft pick in a trade with New Orleans.
VIDEOS FROM NBA TV
Buy Tickets View all
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients