Greg Oden…

Today was a great day at my internship. Someone brought delicious cookies, I went to an event where I received one of the first ever Oregon quarters in circulation that features Mount Hood on the back, and the phones were relatively quiet all day…but then tonight happened.

First, let me start off by saying that I am not only a die-hard Portland Trail Blazer fan, but all-around basketball addict. So when I write about Greg Oden, I am not simply worrying about the future of the Trail Blazers, but mourning for the NBA, who has lost 3 of the first 4 years of this once phenom’s NBA career, and for basketball who may have lost a truly transcendent star.

He was going to be the next Bill Russell. It was not a question of if he would be an all-star, a hall of famer, lead our team to unbelievable success, or be a dominant presence on both offense and defense; it was all going to happen, plain and simple.

From the time Greg was in middle school, he has been known for dominating the game of basketball, and after leading his high school to three straight state championships, he graduated and went to Ohio State University (unfortunately), where he lead his team to a National Championship game in his freshman (and only) season, despite playing with only one hand most of the season.

Greg’s success was often and unprecedented for such a young athlete, but his combination of size, athleticism, instinct, and natural feel for the game of basketball, made it understandable that he could have such great success.

However, along with his incredible ability came injuries; lots of injuries. Apparently Greg fractured his hip in 6th grade…wait, really? Yeah, that happened. Then at the end of a relatively injury free for high school Greg broke his wrist to start his one season of college hoops. But that was only the tip of the iceberg, as Greg would go onto have a micro-fracture surgery on his right knee to stimulate cartilage growth (missing his rookie season), a foot injury (missing the first two weeks of his second season), and then a broken left kneecap during easily his best stretch of basketball since high school (only 20 games into his third season, missing the remainder of the season). All-in-all, Greg played 82 games…in three seasons, exactly one-third of the games allotted he actually played in, that’s all…

But you know what, Greg is a great guy. By all accounts, he is a very funny, intelligent, well-spoken young man who loves the game of basketball and appreciates everything that the city of Portland, the Trail Blazers organization, and his fans have done for him during his career. So because of that, along with his unbelievably unique talent, we did not give up hope (some of us did, but not true fans). Instead we wished bigger, hoping that when he came back he would pick up where he left off early on last season and begin dominating both ends of the floor, and eventually, leading us to where he was destined to take us, an NBA Finals appearance and win!

Unfortunately for all of us, we got ahead of ourselves. As you have all heard by now, Greg was taken from us tonight by yet another micro-fracture surgery, this time on his left knee. So that 82 games did not change this year as Greg had yet to suit up for a game, making his grand total of games played in his four (and presumably complete) years on the Trail Blazers 82/328. We already know that, that is 25%, or 17% less than the “legendary” Sam Bowie played for the Trail Blazers in his own four year career with them.

The issue here is not whether or not the Trail Blazers made the right decision on draft day in 2007; for the record, they did (To be continued/explained). But the real issue is where do they go from here, and where does Greg go? The Trail Blazers committed time and roster space in building around Oden and now do they just shift it slightly, making Marcus Camby the temporary solution? Or do they change things dramatically and look for a trade to find a new franchise center? Only time will tell what GM Rich Cho will do. But that is not actually important right now. What is truly important is Greg.

Greg truly loves the game of basketball, and while things did not work out the way they should have in Portland, he needs to understand this is not his fault. For whatever reason, the basketball gods hate Portland (Hey, MJ!), and even more hate Greg’s body (one leg is shorter than the other–of course!). But for Greg to be what he was always destined to be (next Bill Russell, NBA Champion), he needs to get past these tragic four years, he needs to realize that the past is the past and move onto doing what he loves to do; keep the passion, keep the drive, keep the determination, and keep his spirits up. While I have read reports of depression in Greg’s past having to sit out so many games with little-to-no chance to prove himself, Greg needs not get depressed this time. He did not deliver in Portland and he can be sad about that, but now it is time for him to accept it, move on, and dominate. I will be sad to see him do it in anything other than that Trail Blazer uniform, but ultimately, I will be happy to see him shine, and basketball gods willing; he will.

Best of luck Greg. I am sorry that this was your fate, but I do not blame you for any of this and I will always be your fan!


4 Responses to Greg Oden…

  1. jljones24 says:

    Aw that was a really nice post! I totally feel for the guy… what tough luck. Yet, it does bring up to the point that a lot of other people are thinking–Blazers should have went with Durant, much like they should have went with Jordan in 84.

    • hkaplanm says:

      Both times they needed something else and they went with who fit that. Plus everyone and their mom thought that Oden was the superior player, which he was, till his knees exploded three times, haha.

  2. alisonmoran says:

    I went to the Blazers v. Nuggets game the day after the news broke. The big screen kept flashing the word COURAGE throughout the game…

  3. alisonklapper says:

    Is Oden’s career completely done? Or just with the blazers?

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