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View Full Version : Durant's fans swoon while Oden Balloons


Jack.Kerr
12-09-2007, 10:51 AM
Q: Did anyone see Oden in the swimming trunks at halftime the other night on TNT?

A: Tub of goo.

Lonely & bored, Greg Oden rehabs while Portland holds breath

Sunday, December 9th 2007, 4:00 AM

TUALATIN, Ore. - A soupy gray has settled in outside, booked for an extended winter stay in the Pacific Northwest. Greg Oden sits around at the Trail Blazers' practice facility, bored stiff. He is supposed to be on a road trip with the team, but now a case of sinusitis has set him back. So he's killing time again, lifting weights, patiently talking to a reporter who wants to know how a 7-foot, teenage superstar endures a dreary, year-long rehab.

"I want to get out there," Oden says, about playing again. "I go to the weight room. I nod off. I miss being around people my age. I'm sitting at home. I'm not even 21, so I can't go out. I wouldn't want to anyway, because everybody recognizes you. I get a lot of sleep."

And there, in a claustrophobic nutshell, is Oden's life, which is nothing like it was supposed to be just a few months ago, when he left Ohio State at age 19, signed a two-year guaranteed contract worth more than $8 million as the No. 1 draft pick and the Blazers promoted him all over the region.

Oden says turning pro was a tougher choice than most people think, because "you have to be ready to become a man." A savior, too. He was going to revive basketball out here, turn back the clock to the Bill Walton era. The Memorial Coliseum was selling out every game back then and the Blazers weren't just the only pro team in town, they were the best basketball show anywhere. Oden is still supposed to do all that, although there are now more fingers crossed than scheduled personal appearances - and the name Sam Bowie haunts many conversations.

Oden had just signed his contract and was playing summer ball, nothing fancy, when the right knee began to hurt. It ached a lot. He didn't tell anybody at first, which was a mistake.

"It was mid-summer, I knew something was wrong," he says. "It was hurting for a long time. I didn't feel like afterward it would swell, but it did. Scary swelling. My pants barely went over my knee. But I already had tonsillitis and then this happened, and I didn't want people thinking, ‘He's soft.'"

He kept playing, until he couldn't anymore. Oden underwent arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 13, and doctors used a specialized microfracture technique to help rebuild cartilage in the area.

There are reasons for hope or concern about all this, depending on your inclination. This particular surgical procedure - in which tiny bone fractures are created near cartilage to increase blood flow - has worked wonders on athletes such as Amare Stoudemire and Bode Miller. But this is now Oden's third major physical setback. When he was in sixth grade, he required significant hip surgery that left his right leg a bit shorter than his left. The Blazers' trainer, Jay Jensen, has been experimenting with various orthopedic inserts in his right shoe to eliminate any further problems. Oden also suffered a torn ligament in his right wrist at the end of his senior year of high school, forcing him to sit out the start of Ohio State's season.

Then there is another matter raising several eyebrows. Oden's greatest strength in college was his remarkable mobility and explosive first step. Now he is gaining considerable weight, up nearly 30 pounds to 280 since the start of summer, which will need to be supported by his restructured cartilage.

"I'm thinking it's natural, it's just my time to put on some weight," he says. "I'm young and it happens to everyone. I'm eating good. No fatty foods. I have cereal and a protein shake for breakfast. If I go to McDonald's, I'll get the barbeque wraps, maybe the chicken nuggets."

He might want to reconsider the nuggets. Portland coach Nate McMillan fretted enough about this to tell The Oregonian, "If you start that now, he won't be able to move. We want him to be quick and athletic as opposed to being bulky and big."

For the most part, the Blazers' organization has been supportive. The fans out here, far more patient than New Yorkers, are also saying nice things to Oden all around town. At Columbus, he shared a dorm suite with three other players, including the fourth pick in the draft, Mike Conley Jr. Here, Oden has a smaller support group to help him retain his health and sanity. He lives in a suburb south of Portland near the practice site with his Uncle Freddy, his Indiana high school teammate Brandon McDonald and a dog named Charles Barkley McLovin.

Oden isn't allowed to run yet, or to jump while shooting a basketball. Nobody gives him a set timetable for his recovery from the surgery. When reporters ask, he tells them patiently he has no idea, except that he won't be playing this season. A televised Christmas meeting against Seattle and Kevin Durant - the player Portland passed up to take Oden - was going to be a great holiday spectacle, a ratings grabber. Now, without Oden, it isn't.

It is worth rooting for the kid. Oden is a very nice guy, you can see that already. He apologizes all the time for his injury. Oden calls strangers "sir" or "ma'am." He has very modest materialistic needs, still looking for bargains on basic staples. Everybody has always liked him, dating back to the days when he was playing AAU ball with Isiah Thomas' son, Josh.

Here is the unspoken fear, however: Bowie was a sweetheart, too. He was drafted by the Blazers ahead of Michael Jordan back in 1984 and then his legs started breaking. They wouldn't stop. Like Oden, Bowie found himself feeling very guilty about his deteriorating condition, until he learned there was nothing he could do about it.

"No matter what people say, I can't control an injury," Oden says.

He is still trying to convince himself of this grave truth. The injury controls him, controls the future of the Blazers. Oden has big money, a great head on his broadening shoulders, and a lot of long, gray days in his immediate future.

Dtownsfinest
12-09-2007, 10:28 PM
I hate that Oden got hurt. I'd love to see him out there with these guys. Aldridge is developing nicely as is Webster, Roy and Jack. Imagine if they suck this year. Possibly get OJ Mayo in next year's draft? Talk about scary.

antoinewalker
12-09-2007, 11:04 PM
oden's injury would be a blessing in disguise if they get a high pick in next year's draft.

mqywaaah
12-09-2007, 11:27 PM
^^Nice sig

Dirkenstien
12-11-2007, 12:05 PM
I hate that Oden got hurt. I'd love to see him out there with these guys. Aldridge is developing nicely as is Webster, Roy and Jack. Imagine if they suck this year. Possibly get OJ Mayo in next year's draft? Talk about scary.


From what I've seen of OJ Mayo he's not anywhere near the player I thought he was going to be. If I were Portland and had a top three pick I would consider solidifying my front court with either Beasley from Kansas State or Hibbert from Georgetown.

Although I do think Mayo will do better in the pros than in college. I think the highly technical style of college play is constricting his abilities to create plays and do what he does best: score.

Dtownsfinest
12-11-2007, 02:55 PM
From what I've seen of OJ Mayo he's not anywhere near the player I thought he was going to be. If I were Portland and had a top three pick I would consider solidifying my front court with either Beasley from Kansas State or Hibbert from Georgetown.

Although I do think Mayo will do better in the pros than in college. I think the highly technical style of college play is constricting his abilities to create plays and do what he does best: score.

You don't think their front court is fine? Aldridge, Pryzbilla, Greg Oden and Channing Frye? I guess it matters where they pick. I see Beasley as being the 1st pick in the draft. I don't see the Blazers getting that pick again. I don't see them messing with the 4 or 5 spot again. I'm not sure if they feel Roy is a 2 or a 3 but getting Beasley would definately have him at the 2 spot which may suit the Blazers just fine.

Dirkenstien
12-11-2007, 03:19 PM
You don't think their front court is fine? Aldridge, Pryzbilla, Greg Oden and Channing Frye? I guess it matters where they pick.

Oh, no I think they definitely have a potentially very good front court but it is very rare and a tremendous advantage to have two young, talented and physically dominating big men on a team. Although it doesn't always work out as hoped for (see Curry/Chandler in Chicago and Kwame Brown/Brendan Haywood in Washington), but if it does work out it would seem you pretty much have the foundation for many years of utter domination.

It would be a tough call, though, because I occasionally do see flashes of brilliance from Mayo that can't be detected from looking at a stat sheet. He seems like the type of guy that could really make teams pay for passing him up in the draft.

MavsX
12-11-2007, 04:26 PM
"I'm thinking it's natural, it's just my time to put on some weight," he says. "I'm young and it happens to everyone. I'm eating good. No fatty foods. I have cereal and a protein shake for breakfast. If I go to McDonald's, I'll get the barbeque wraps, maybe the chicken nuggets."

hahahaha