It wasn't the first meeting, and it wasn't the second talk with Pop. According to an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't sold on signing with the Spurs until after he had met with all of the teams and was ready to return to Texas. Ime Udoka, who had grown close to Aldridge when they played together in 2006-07, shared a flight with the free agent and took the time to answer any questions he had.
In Aldridge's words:
"So we rode ... and talked the whole flight. ... and he was just telling me, ‘We need a guy to score down there. Tim (Duncan) is older, and we need a guy to command a double team down there.' So I was like, ‘Maybe I'm not a Spur, because I've been averaging 23 (points per game) for the last three to four years, and maybe I don't fit into y'all's system of let's all average 17 (points per game).' And he was like, ‘No, we're not trying to change who you are and make you average 16 or 17. We want you to be you...' He kind of reaffirmed that they didn't want to change me, and that who I am is ok."
The whole article is a good read, but what strikes me is that it was something that the Spurs could never have planned on -- an ex-teammate on the coaching staff -- that turned out to be pivotal in securing Aldridge's commitment. Turns out the game of free agency is as much about the little things as basketball itself.