Center Greg Oden—formerly of the Portland Trailblazers—has not played a single game of professional basketball since December 2009 and yet many NBA teams are quite interested in his services. Oden has reportedly done workouts for officials of the Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs in the hopes of making an unprecedented comeback.
It can be recalled that Oden was hailed as a “once-in-a-decade” player and the “next best thing” in basketball. Even when he was in high school, scouts were already salivating over Oden as he received several individual awards. In his lone year in college, he led Ohio State University to the 2007 National Championship game wherein he tallied 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in a losing effort versus the Florida Gators.
With his size, athleticism, talent and attitude, Oden was already being compared to the game’s best centers such as Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal. Many believed he was destined for greatness. It is no wonder that Oden was picked No. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA draft ahead of Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Mike Conley. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2007-2008 season as he had micro-fracture surgery on his right knee. The next season, he played only 61 games. Even then, he already showed flashes of brilliance but was limited due to injuries. In 2009-2010, Oden suffered a season-ending injury after 21 games. He hasn’t played since after more surgeries to both knees.
Overall, Oden has only played one full season out of a possible five. He sat out last season to focus on rehabbing his knees in attempt to play for 2013-2014. It must be noted that no one has taken so much time off (nearly 4 years) and undergone this many surgeries and successfully come back to play at a professional level. Still, at 25 years old, Oden may be able to pull it off. While he may no longer have the same “legs” as before, he seems to be very determined.
Anytime soon after the workouts, we can surely expect an NBA team to grab Oden. At best, he may be able to play at the same level before his various injuries sidelined him. He will make a great back-up center for a contending team. At worst, he may re-injure himself and finally hang up his sneakers.
Indeed, hope springs eternal and many are hopeful that Oden can finally fulfill even part of the promise that he showed before. In a way, we are all rooting for this gentle giant who was beset by tragic injuries but continued to strive to get back in shape and return to the game he loves.
SIDELINES. Greg Oden was chosen as the 2005 National Basketball Player of the Year, an impressive feat since he was only a junior that year.