When you hear the old saying “The mind is willing but the flesh is weak” most likely an image of Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden does not readily come to the top of your head. The 24-year-old big man stands seven feet tall and weighs in at a strapping 285 pounds. I had the pleasure of meeting him in Cleveland as I covered the 2007 NBA Finals, weeks before he would become the number one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and he is a huge man even by NBA standards. However, it has been his body that has betrayed him; specifically his knees and allowed him to play just 82 games in what should be his fifth NBA campaign.
Oden suffered another setback in his quest to resume playing in the Association as the “Oregonian” has reported that the Blazers center underwent procedure in Vail, Colorado on Friday to clear out debris in his right knee. He may have to have a similar procedure performed on his left knee, which was operated on last year and has kept him on the sidelines so far this season. The big man had been given clearance to resume basketball activities back in January and apparently aggravated both of his knees.
The former Ohio State player had micro-fracture surgery to repair his right knee back in 2007 and had no problems with it over the last few years. He had a similar procedure performed on his left knee last year and is attempting to come back once again and start to fulfill some of the promise the club had seen in him when they selected the big man over Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant in 2007.
Oden has played in just two seasons for Portland so far as he logged 61 games in the 2008-2009 campaign and then played in 21 games the following season before succumbing to injury. During those few games that he played in the 2009-2010 season, he started to show what he was capable of; however that window was open far too briefly.
As a man of average height and weight I can only imagine the stress that a man of Oden’s size puts on his body running up and down the basketball court. Blazers fans know all too well about injured centers; going through the agony and the ecstasy with Bill Walton and the unfulfilled promise of Sam Bowie when they could have selected Michael Jordan.
If Oden invested his money wisely, then he and his family will be set for generations. The money however will not satisfy the desire to get out on the hardwood and take on some of the finest players on the planet at his best. Whether his body can endure the stress of that challenge; or if it will betray him yet again remains to be seen.