SAN ANTONIO — Count Spurs All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge among those who didn't see Tim Duncan's return to basketball as an assistant coach coming.
"I was surprised," Aldridge said Friday. "I thought he wanted to stay at home longer. But, you know, he knows basketball. He's an all-time great, so love to have him back for sure."
Asked if he's eager to work with Duncan, generally considered the greatest power forward in basketball history, Aldridge said: "I think everyone is looking forward to having him around. He has that 'it' factor that changes the whole culture, just makes things better."
Duncan, who retired after the 2015-16 season, is the only Spur who played on all five of the franchise's championship teams. A two-time league MVP during his 19 NBA seasons, all with San Antonio, Duncan has stayed close to the team since retiring.
Aldridge's first season with the Silver and Black was Duncan's last in the league.
Aldridge commented on Duncan, the Spurs' offseason and the importance of giving back to the community during his back-to-school party at the Calderon Boys and Girls Club.
Besides getting backpacks filled with school supplies, courtesy of H-E-B, 300 kids received free iPads from Aldridge. He also gave each boy and girl Academy+Outdoors gift certificates that will provide each student with two school uniforms.
Aldridge was a few minutes late to Friday's event because he was flying back from Dallas, where he grew up.
“I’m very thankful for H-E-B helping me out with those (backpacks),” Aldridge said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to fly all the way back for just backpacks. Let’s do something better.’ I said, ‘You know what? Let’s do iPads.’ My kids love iPads. I said, why not? So we just did it.”
Aldridge gave the 243 kids who were at Friday's party iPads, and the rest of the devices will go to 57 other students who weren't able to attend.
“We’ve been putting this together for about a month,” Aldridge said of the party..“The iPad thing just came across my mind about three days ago. Every kid loves iPads, so I thought why not?”
Community work always has been important to Aldridge, who was born in Dallas, and played at Seagoville High School before going on to Texas. He was the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft after playing two seasons at UT.
"You always have to give back,” Aldridge said. “There are a lot of kids out there that need things, everything. Being able to give back is amazing to me, for sure. (When) I grew up, I didn’t have much. Having a place like this to go to, having different resources at times just helps make things better out there.”
A seven-time All-Star during his 13-year career, Aldridge averaged 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting all 81 games he played in last season. He also shot a career-best 52.8 from the field.
The Spurs made the playoffs as a No. 7 after finishing 48-34 and lost to Denver in a seven-game, first-round series. It marked the second consecutive season the Silver and Black were eliminated in the opening round.
Aldridge was upbeat when he was asked about the Spurs' offseason.
“We made some changes,” Aldridge said. “I thought we got some guys that can help us play defense, be better overall, so it’s all been good for us.”
The Spurs added free-agent forward DeMarre Carroll to their roster, but lost out on Marcus Morris, another veteran free-agent forward. Morris, who averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, agreed to sign with the San Antonio last month, but reneged on the deal and signed with the New York Knicks instead.