When watching the highlights between the Portland Trail Blazers versus Miami Heat on Thursday night, it was hard not to think about Greg Oden.
Rip City is where Oden tore up his knees resulting in three microfracture surgeries and 82 total games played between the time the Blazers selected him number one overall in the 2007 NBA Draft and December 2009, when the 7-foot center blew out his knee in a home game against the Houston Rockets.
Watching Oden lay on the Rose Garden floor clutching his caved in left knee is a vivid memory that will never be erased.
In mid-March 2012, the Blazers sadly waived Oden.
Two months later the oft-injured big man (five surgeries in total to be exact) said he would sit out the 2012-13 season and instead focus on rehabbing while also taking classes to finish up his degree at Ohio State.
He has stayed true to that word.
But now the comeback is back on and Oden already has some pursuers in a number of teams, including the Miami Heat according to published reports.
ESPN.com reported that Oden could receive has a multiyear deal to be signed before the end of the season, allowing him to participate in a full rehab program and perhaps be ready for postseason play. The report goes on to say that the Heat are at the top of Oden's wish list (shocker, I know) and there is mutual interest from Miami’s side.
It is no secret that the Heat are in a constant state of searching for a big man, which is not only the case this season but for the last couple of seasons. Miami has two roster spots to fill so ideally they could secure two centers to round out their roster -- one who can contribute immediately, and more of a project to bring along slowly (read: Greg Oden).
Knowing Oden’s history with injuries Mike Conley, Sr. (Oden’s agent) apparently is remaining patient with the process of Oden returning to the floor and that is for good reason. And after everything Oden has been through in his brief but banged up NBA career it is hard not to root for his story and success. It all comes down to Oden staying healthy.
That is a big “if”, but if anyone deserves a second (fourth actually if you consider the microfractures) chance to make it in this league it is Greg Oden.
That goes for if Oden comes back this season with Miami or another team, next season or when he sees fit.