Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Greg Oden faces third microfracture surgery; career could be over

By Kshell

In Portland you have four guarantees in life which is being born, taxes, death and a Greg Oden injury. Sadly for Portland Trail Blazers fans the picture to my right has been seen far too often in Portland. Greg Oden who hasn't played a game since December 5th, 2009 will undergo his fifth surgery and third microfracture surgery of his career. Despite having just turned 24 years old Oden is facing the possibility of retirement. Oden should be entering his fifth season with the Blazers. The Blazers led by Greg Oden and Brandon Roy(Who also retired too young) were supposed to be contending for championships right now. Instead the Blazers are faced with losing two of their main guys they were counting on to win a title in the same season.

When Oden was selected to the Blazers with the top pick in the 2007 NBA Draft he was supposed to be that once in a generation center. He was supposed to be giving the Blazers what Dwight Howard gives the Orlando Magic every night. Oden immediately was injured at Portland missing his entire rookie season. In what should have been his second year in the NBA Oden played in 61 games for the Blazers averaging 8.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.13 blocks per game in only 21.5 minutes. In a six game series playoff loss to the Houston Rockets Oden averaged only 5.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 0.83 blocks per game in only 16 minutes. Oden's first year of playing in the NBA was a total bust. His third year in the NBA and second full season of playing was finally his breakthrough season. During his first 21 games of the season Oden was averaging 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.28 blocks per game in just 23.9 minutes. Oden was one of the most valuable players in the NBA during those 21 games then on December 5th, 2009 against the Houston Rockets it all came crashing down on Oden. Oden who was coming off of a 13 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks game against the Miami Heat went down early against the Rockets. He only played in 4 mintues and 15 seconds before going down. Oden would finish his last game with the Blazers like his first game scoring zero points and getting injured. There is a good chance Oden is never going to play again as he missed the final 61 games of the 2009-2010 season, all of 2010-11 season will miss all of 2011-12 season. Good chance he will miss all of next season and the start of the 2013-2014 season. What makes this injury to Oden even worse for the Blazers is the player they passed on Oden for is lighting it up in Kevin Durant.

That year in a fluke the Blazers jumped up to the #1 pick in the draft lottery while the Seattle Supersonics had the #2 pick. That year the choices for the top spot was Center Greg Oden from Ohio State who led the Buckeyes to the National title game averaging 15.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 3.3 blocks per game in only 28.9 minutes. The other option was the electric Kevin Durant from Texas university. Durant averaged 25.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. I thought Durant was the better player and was less of a risk than Oden so I was hoping the Blazers would choose Oden over Durant. Having said that I thought the Blazers were passing on a Lebron James type of talent for Dwight Howard. Meaning I thought both were going to be all-stars. I figured Durant would win MVP's while Oden would win defensive player of the year awards. The Sonics gift of Durant was quickly stolen to Oklahoma City. Durant in his five seasons has been named Rookie of the Year and is going to his third straight all-star game. Durant who led the Oklahoma City Zombie Sonics to the Western Conference Finals last season now has them with the best record in the Western Conference at 26-7. Durant in his career is averaging 26.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 Steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He is shooting 46.7% from the field, 35.9% on three pointers making 1.4 a game and 87.7% on free throws. He has led the NBA in scoring the past two years and this year is averaging 27.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. He is shooting 51.6% from the field, 36.7% from three point range making 1.7 a game and 82.9% on free throws. Blazers management ignored their team doctors opinions on Oden suggesting he would break down after three years.  Durant appears headed towards being an NBA superstar while Oden most likely won't ever play a game again. This isn't the first time this has happened to the Blazers either.

In the 1984 NBA draft the Portland Trail Blazers had the second pick in the draft. They passed on five-time NBA MVP and six-time finals MVP Michael Jordan who is perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game. Instead they chose center Sam Bowie who had missed two whole seasons at Kentucky with injuries. Bowie played only four years with the Blazers having played in just 76 games his rookie year, 38 games his second year, five games his third and 20 his fourth. Bowie averaged in those years 10.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.67 blocks per game his rookie year. After that it was all downhill for Bowie as he played in just 139 out of 328 games(42.3% of teams game played) in his career with the Blazers. The Blazers would lose to Jordan in the 1992 NBA Finals where he was named finals MVP. The Blazers franchise would never live this moment down and when they had a chance to re-write history instead history just repeated itself.

The anger towards Oden is unfair but I understand it. The Blazers have a great fanbase and they feel like this is unfair. Twice now the Blazers have chosen the injury plagued center who had shown signs prior to the draft of being injury prone. Twice now the Blazers have passed up on a prolific scorer and superstar for the center. The Blazers franchise has nobody to blame but themselves for ignoring the warning signs which was right there. Hopefully in the future if the Blazers do get a third chance to re-write history they take the advice of the warning signs and go with the future superstar. Now the Blazers who already lost Roy and most likely won't ever see Oden play in a Blazers uniform again are only left wondering what if? History has repeated itself once again in Portland which has been a sad pill to swallow for such a loyal fanbase. Even more sad is that basketball fans will have lost out on the chance to ever see what Oden could have done in Portland. Once again the Blazers are left with what if?

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