The most accurate description of Greg Oden’s career in the Association at this juncture, may be best summed up by the “Grateful Dead,” when they sang years ago “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.” Selected with the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers the center spent most of his time with the franchise on the sidelines as his body rebelled against him. The former Ohio State big man’s knees could not withstand the wear and tear of the NBA schedule, forcing him to undergo micro-fracture surgery on both, a total of three operations in all. Oden played in just 82-games for Portland, before they released him last summer.
The center could have collected his money and gone onto the next stage of his life, most likely financially secure enough to do what ever he chose for the rest of his days. Despite the surgeries, all the pain he had gone through and realizing what would lie ahead for him, a fire still burned within the center that would not allow him to walk away quietly into the night.
Oden stayed away from the Association this past season and dedicated the year to getting his body back into shape for him to attempt a comeback starting this October. According to numerous reports, the big man has lost considerable weight and is in the best shape since his high school days. He started have negotiations with interested teams during the last part of this past campaign, however he decided to suspend his talks until the summer. Proving once again the old adage “You can’t coach big,” several teams expressed interest in the former number one pick.
The “Sun Sentinel” reported that after an extensive courting process, Oden decided to take his talents to South Beach for at least the next two seasons, choosing to stage his comeback attempt with defending NBA Champions the Miami Heat. The paper reports the deal is for two-seasons at the NBA veteran’s minimum, paying the pivot man $1 million in the upcoming campaign and $1.1 million in the following year. There is also a player only option for a third-year.
The big man could have earned more money with other franchises, as published reports state that the New Orleans Pelicans offered him a pact that would have paid him $3 million per season. However, signing with Miami gives Oden the best chance of winning his first NBA Title, while also starting with the club as a complimentary player, putting far less pressure on him. If he can consistently play at the level he did in his last attempt with the Blazers, he would be an asset in the team’s battle to win a third straight NBA Finals.
Although it is a positive sign that the big man has made it this far in his attempt to get back on the floor in the Association, it will be far from smooth sailing for Oden to show that he still belongs on the hardwood. Will the surgeries, the hard-work and the time away from the Association allow him to salvage his NBA career? The book is still open on that, but the first chapter will begin in about two-months.